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TOP 10 MIGRATION ISSUES OF 2005
Issue #4: Temporary Work Programs Back in Fashion
Thai laborers harvest cuttings for replanting from a potato field in Israel.
Temporary work programs that do not allow workers to settle or bring over
their family members have been common in a number of Middle Eastern and Asian
countries since the 1970s. The legacy of post-war guest workers in Europe and
the Bracero program in the United States has kept most Western countries from
considering new schemes even when faced with low-skill labor shortages. But
those attitudes began to shift in 2005.
Spain's decision to regularize illegal immigrants this year — an
estimated 690,000 applied — was driven partly by the government's
desire to turn as many of them as possible into legal, temporary workers. The
regularization, similar to Spain's earlier initiatives, does not
provide a path to legal permanent residence.
One of the immigration reform proposals in the United States Congress, the
Cornyn-Kyl bill, would create a temporary worker program that would be open
to illegal immigrants who first return home, but it too would not allow them
to settle permanently in the United States.
Malaysia, which attracts hundreds of thousands of workers from Indonesia,
Bangladesh, and the Philippines, is also attempting to turn its illegal migrant
population into legal, temporary workers. The government announced in October
2004 that it would allow illegal immigrants to leave the country without penalty
before detaining and deporting those found after the "amnesty" deadline
passed. Migrants who departed in time would be allowed to return through legal
channels. The deadline for leaving was pushed back to February 28, 2005 in
response to the tsunami devastation in Indonesia, and what many called a violent
crackdown began March 1.
The desire on the part of Western countries to appear in control of immigration
flows, coupled with economic and demographic pressures, may well lead to more
temporary work programs in the years ahead.
For more information, please see the following articles:
• US Temporary Worker Programs: Lessons Learned
• Regularizing Immigrants in Spain: A New Approach
• Why Countries Continue to Consider Regularization
• Saudi Arabia's Plan for Changing Its Workforce
• Domestic Workers: Little Protection for the Underpaid
• Asian Women Migrants: Going the Distance, But Not Far Enough
• South Korea: Balancing Labor Demand with Strict Controls
• Israel: Balancing Demographics in the Jewish State
• Japan: From Immigration Control to Immigration Policy?
• Spotlight on Temporary Admissions of Nonimmigrants to the United States
• Temporary High-Skilled Migration
• Immigration Reform Bill and DHS Restructuring Focus on Enforcement
and Facilitation (Cornyn-Kyl bill)
• Bush Proposes New Temporary Worker Program
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