I was just watching Brit Hume's "Special Report" on Fox News (yes, I watch Fox News, it's always important to know what the enemy is up to). He had a panel of very articulate, interesting and thoughtful guests having a rational discussion about the immigration bill being debated in Congress. Two of the panelists pointed out that the current bill does not really have the support of the business community, because it does not go far enough with the guest worker program.
The current bill only offers 400,000 guest worker slots per year, and proposes that the workers only stay 2 years, then go back to their country of origin for one year, before being able to return for another two year stint. The American business community, according to one of Hume's conservative panelists, would rather see a million workers a year, with a three year work permit, that can be renewed for another three years without having to return home. (If you doubt my version of this, check out Brit Hume's "Special Report" website on Thursday, and click on the transcript for today's show -- Tuesday May 22, 2007 -- it won't go up until later today or early tomorrow).
I have absolutely no doubt that this speaker is right on the money when it comes to a large proportion of American businesses which depend very heavily on the inexpensive labor of immigrants, especially illegal workers.
What I find so fascinating about all this, is that the American upper class and business elite, have been stoking the fires of xenophobia and racism for more than a hundred years as a means of keeping the working class divided among itself and unable to joing together as a politically coherent class based political power. The power elite as G. William Domhoff calls them, make use of their ownership and control over mass media outlets, to promote this rabid anti-immigrant sentiment. [And don't give me any crap about the so called "liberal media" -- Lou Dobbs, who I am sure is considered "liberal" by folks on the far right, does a superb job in ramping up the hysterial xenophobia of his viewers].
If you're interested in a serious, well documented sociological study on the use of racism and ethnic divisions to control the work force, check out the classic Blue Collar Community by William Kornblum about steel workers in South Chicago in the 1970's. For a less scholarly, but well written view of the same issue, read bell hooks where we stand: class matters [no capitals in the original].As a genuine left winger, I would like to see amnesty for all immigrants with jobs [if they are legal, they won't worry about being deported, and they can be more radical and agressive in pressing for better pay and working conditions]. If it weren't for that, I'd be crowing for joy that the American business community is not getting what they want out of this immigration bill. It seems only fair that if you spend a hundred years of fanning the flames of hate and fear, that hate and fear will suddenly be inconvenient when you suddenly decide you actually need a lot more cheap workers. Hoisted on their own petard.