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John Culleton: Immigration bill filled with flaws

The proposed new immigration law, like the existing version of Obamacare, is a good intention flawed by timid execution.

The special interests and the ideologues have given us a fatally flawed bill.

We have always had an underclass of poorly paid workers. The guest worker programs were traditionally an underclass for agriculture. But now we have a second underclass in high tech industries via the H1B visa program.

The new bill will increase the number of these visas. We bemoan the lack of American students graduating with training in technology. But when they do graduate, they find entry level high tech jobs taken by foreign visa holders who are highly skilled and work for relatively low salaries. This is another form of outsourcing to India, except the underpaid foreign workers are imported on a temporary basis.

There are consultants that for a fee will help corporations to structure their jobs in a way that U.S. tech graduates will have trouble qualifying for.

India in turn is happy to churn out high tech grads. In fact, that nation has a government sponsored technical institute where students get a free ride just like our service academies. Like our service academies the competition to enter this institute is qualification-based and keen. Only the best and the brightest need apply.

My proposal is to take the Merchant Marine Academy and restructure it as a high tech institution, concentrating on the jobs now filled by H1B visa holders. Given the few American merchant ships, and the monopoly imposed by Masters Mates and Pilots Union favoring the graduates of their own school (located here in Maryland) we don't need the WWII-era Merchant Marine Academy. We do need a National Technology Academy. And we need to cancel all future H1B visa grants. Otherwise we will become the third world power and India the master of technology.

Another flawed facet of the immigration bill is the purported "fairness" provisions requiring fines, back taxes and a long waiting period for our illegal immigrants (I refuse to bowdlerize the designation to "undocumented" just to make someone feel better). These underground workers will take one look at these provisions and stay underground.

These are feel good provisions are to satisfy the right wing among others. But the same politicians who demand fairness from poor agricultural workers resist the same standard when applied to large oil companies or General Electric. These corporations have legally avoided paying any income taxes at all for many years. How about collecting back taxes from BP and Exxon?

Those of us who are Christians may want to reread the parable in Matthew 20:1-16 where the latecomers got paid as much as those who had worked all day. But too many of us profess Christianity without bothering to practice it when it comes to other races and/or other nationalities.

The exploited underclass not yet even recognized consists of born Americans who work "under the table," paying no income or FICA taxes, and earning no benefits. Sometimes I meet them in the emergency room. A few inspections at construction sites would yield many such. But like the illegal immigrants who also work under the table, they should not be punished or deprived of work, but rather, moved to regular tax paying status. We don't have a good head count, but am guessing there are millions of them.

Underclasses have existed for many centuries. And not all of them were undereducated. Our word "pedagogue" goes back to the days when highly educated Greek slaves taught the children of the Roman upper class. The Romans had their own H1B program.

I fear that by the time the politicians finish pleasing special interest groups and piously penalizing those here illegally we will be worse off than before. I favor closing the border even tighter and declaring amnesty for all who have made it here already.

I can't endorse any immigration bill likely to pass this Congress.

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