State-level guest-worker programs

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An interesting policy proposal described by the Economist:

Mr Shurtleff proposes an arrangement between Utah and individual Mexican states such as Nuevo Leon, in the north-east. Employers in Utah could request workers and the Mexican authorities would screen applicants. Utah would issue these Mexicans a guest-worker card similar to the driving permits it already gives illegal immigrants. It would separate “the work line from the immigration line,” says Mr Shurtleff.

He calls this the “Golden Spike initiative”, which is emotionally potent. It reminds Utahns of the transcontinental railroad, completed in Utah with a golden spike in 1869. What the Chinese and Irish labourers were then, Mr Shurtleff implies, Mexicans are today.

The irony in his proposal is that such a guest-worker programme would necessarily encroach upon a federal prerogative.

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