Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Obama's Town Hall Agenda, What's Missing?

/PRNewswire/ -- President Obama's Town Hall on immigration reform -- canceled a second time last week and awaiting a new date -- includes no proponent of the most viable real-world option: The Red Card Solution. Helen Krieble, small business owner and author of the Solution, is working to change that.

Wednesday, June 23, Krieble hosts a bipartisan morning briefing at the Library of Congress to explain The Red Card Solution to congressional staffers. That afternoon, she'll debut a new Red Card Solution documentary at the National Press Club Building and lead a panel of experts in national economics, politics, security, and media.

"Labor and business are starting to come together to support a non-immigrant worker program that can help achieve border security and supply the country's economic needs," said Krieble, whose equestrian farm in Colorado suffers like thousands of small businesses unable to find sufficient temporary workers. "The Red Card Solution is not about citizenship, it's about work. It's about workers and employers and the ability to come together legally," she said.

Currently millions of undocumented foreign workers cost U.S. citizens billions of dollars annually in border patrol, uncollected taxes, and education, health care, and corrections expenses. To expand on The Red Card Solution's taxpayer benefits:

-- Taxes are collected on wages paid to legal, temporary workers.
(Currently, in most cases, no taxes are collected.)
-- Temporary workers paying taxes will cover their fair share of social
services currently provided at taxpayers' expense.
-- Money and resources currently pouring into border security will be
better used as border patrol agents focus less and less on the fewer
illegal workers and more on criminals and terrorists.
-- The costs of the private-sector program are entirely funded by user
fees, not tax dollars.

One of the solution's strongest features is that its funding source is private enterprise.

"The Red Card Solution is underwritten when employers pay to list jobs with the private employment services opening offices in foreign countries," Krieble said. "That means business, not taxpayers, will foot the bill. Free markets are freed do what they do best: link employers who need a service with workers who can provide it."

Historically Viable

The Bracero Program after World War II opened Mexican workers to temporary, legal entry into the United States for farm jobs. The program was limited in scope and, some say, failed to protect the workers from abuse. But in one important area -- security -- the plan made a clear impact:

"In the Bracero Program era, apprehensions of illegal aliens coming into the United States from Mexico dropped to almost nothing, from more than a million a year to only 35,000. After the program was abolished, the number returned to a million-plus," Krieble said. "Then as now, the question is: why risk work here illegally if you can do it legally?"

Not about Amnesty

The Red Card Solution matches workers and employees through private agencies outside U.S. borders:

-- The U.S. government authorizes private employment agencies to grant
temporary non-immigrant work permits. Foreign workers apply in their
own countries for the permits.
-- Job applicants are matched to current, unfilled U.S. jobs; temporary,
non-immigrant workers fill a specific job for a specific time and may
return home when the job ends.
-- Permits are in "smart card" biometric data, enabling border
authorities to see that temporary workers enter legally for pre-agreed
employment and return when the work ends.
-- All permit holders must pass criminal background checks in their
home-country databases and in U.S. databases.

"The Red Card is not about amnesty," Krieble said. "Illegal workers already in the U.S. may go outside U.S. borders to apply and return legally for available U.S. work."

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