Darlene Casella: Economic Asylum Is Not the Answer to the Immigration Crisis


Scenes of caged children with headlines about a crisis on the border. Children being separated from their families fill newspapers, magazines, and online media. Scads of these photos are from years ago, under President Barack Obama’s administration.

One especially evocative picture of a young boy crying while hanging onto a wire fence was actually a taken at a refugee camp in the Middle East.

Absent from many establishment media reports is the fact that the law regarding separation of children and adults pending an immigration hearing did not start with President Donald Trump. It has been in effect for years.

When Bill Clinton was president, the Supreme Court ruled that adult illegals be separated from accompanying children during incarceration. The argument was that children should be placed in a safe environment with amenities not provided to incarcerated adults.

Leftists at the time praised this as a success for human rights. The law was enforced by attorneys general from Janet Reno to Eric Holder.

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Obama enforced that law from 2009 to 2014. Rather than ask Congress to change the law, Obama instead instigated a “catch and release” program in 2014, allowing undocumented immigrants to be released with a request to show up at an immigration hearing at a future date. A large percentage of those immigrants never appear for that hearing.

The establishment media gets asylum wrong. Everyone who appears at the border does not qualify for asylum. Asylum is for people that are persecuted for their race, religion, nationality or political opinion — not for people fleeing violent crime or for economic purposes.

There is a need for workers seeking to enter our country, but economic asylum and open borders are not the answer.

President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement by executive order in 1942. The Bracero guest worker program was one of the most important events in U.S.-Mexican relations. Under this program, the government encouraged Mexican citizens to come to the U.S. for work. Mexican workers were guaranteed the prevailing wage of local workers, employment for at least three-fourths of the contract period, free transportation from and back to Mexico, free housing and meals at a decent price.

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Of course, sometimes the provisions were violated, and there was racist discrimination, but the Bracero seasonal worker program largely succeeded for decades. Braceros contracted with farms or railroads to work for a set time, and kissed their wives and children goodbye, knowing exactly when they would return home with hard-earned money. There was no need to drag family through dangerous territories to illegally enter the U.S. and find work. Families remained happily in local villages with the knowledge that husbands and fathers would return.

More than 4.8 million people participated in the Bracero program in 24 states, most heavily in Texas, California and Arizona.

Frequent attempts to unionize Bracero workers failed. Thwarted unions were increasingly unhappy and declared that guest worker protections were meaningless. Congress sought to impose labor law requirements.

President Lyndon Johnson ended the Bracero program in 1964, arguing that there was no shortage of domestic workers. The end of the program brought successful unionization. The National Farm Workers Association (AFL-CIO) headed by Cesar Chávez protested against working conditions for table grape workers in California. Chávez led a boycott, and grape growers signed an agreement with what became the United Farm Workers.

There are currently only two small temporary guest worker visa programs in place in the United States. Agriculture workers apply for H-2A Visas. Employers pay round-trip transportation, housing and meals. About 150,00 annual H2A visas are issued.

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Non-agriculture workers apply for H-2B. Visas. Prospective employers must claim that they would suffer irreparable harm without the H-2B worker. H-2B Visas are capped at 66,000 annually.

These visa programs are not adequate.

The left wants an open border, but that is also the wrong answer. We need an orderly, legal process for immigrants and workers to enter the United States and to leave the United States.

Propagandized scenes of economic migrants flooding the border should not override common sense legislation that is based on what is best for America.

Darlene Casella is a former English teacher, stockbroker and owner and president of a small corporation. She is politically active with Federated Republican Women, the Lincoln Club and the California Republican Party.

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