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Guest Workers and Integration: Toward a Theory of What Immigrants and Americans Owe One Another, 2007 UNIV. OF CHI. LEGAL FORUM 219


The presence of over eleven million unauthorized immigrants in the
United States has generated a wide-ranging and charged debate in recent
years over the need to overhaul our immigration laws. Among the suggested
reforms, the most novel (for the United States) and controversial has
been the proposal that we adopt a large-scale temporary worker program to
address current labor needs and channel future flows of unskilled migrants,
who come primarily from Mexico and Latin America. Since his first term,
President Bush has been calling for some form of guest worker program,
and many of the bills that have emerged from both houses of Congress in
the last few years have included a temporary worker program as a key
component of comprehensive immigration reform. A guest worker program
has become the measure favored by those who eschew enforcement-only strategies in favor of reform that accommodates the market realities that have generated the unauthorized population. Advocates of a guest worker program acknowledge that the legal admissions system, as currently designed, cannot manage the patterns of migration generated by these market forces. A temporary worker program would address current institutional limitations by creating new legal mechanisms for channeling the migration likely to persist in the future, no matter how long or high a border wall Congress resolves to build. A guest worker program thus represents a critical forward-looking complement to legalization programs that would permit millions of unauthorized migrants already in the United States to become lawful residents, ultimately obviating the need for largescale legalization programs in the future.

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immigration, immigration law, integration