Overview Of Social Issue And Policy Social Policy

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Immigration reform is a controversial topic, various policies have been enacted in the past which have survived or ceased to exist, serving as learning experiences for our nation, and nations wishing to immigrate to the United States. While the number of undocumented workers in the United States cannot be accurately measured, it is believed that twelve-million to twenty-million people are affected by immigration laws, the former being the popular statistic according to various web cites visited.

These undocumented workers come from various regions such s Latin America, India, and Asia. People come from infinitely various areas, the aforementioned are among the strongest concentrated areas people migrate from. People that work in the United States and lack documentation do not receive the same rights as citizens or residents in this country. Although everyone pays taxes, everyone does not receive equal rights.

Among rights denied to undocumented workers observed are: failure to obtain legal identification such as driver's license or state/government issued ID, voting rights, in-state tuition privileges for students who are undocumented and extreme situations such as strong difficulty in obtaining employment. Some groups are affected differently due to policies currently in place, some benefit from temporary visas, while others enter the country illegally and remain that way the majority to all of their lives in the United States.

Policy SolutionsBracero Program- August 4, 1942 (Federal)

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1917 was enacted in 1917 and through a loophole certain employees were granted temporary employment in the United States, because the need was evident after World War I. During the period of 1917-1923 that this Act was in place, 73,000 reported temporary Mexican workers entered the United States. Until the Bracero Act was enacted, there had never been an international agreement for Mexican workers to legally work in the agriculture or any other field in the United States.

During the 1940's there was an empirical need for a bilateral immigration program; for achievement of migration goals with the help of the American and Mexican nations, as they had a common interest of influencing migration patterns. A bilateral agreement was signed on August 4th, 1942. This federally mandated policy allowed agricultural workers from Mexico to enter the United States for employment. Until the policy's end in the year of 1964, five-million "Braceros" were transported by the United States government into the United States for agricultural work. Informal negotiations took place until 1951, in which Public Law 78 was enacted by congress, setting a precedent of a government-to-government contract system between the two nations.

During the time the Bracero Program was in place, ambivalent acceptance was noted, similar to current immigration views. People who opposed the Bracero Program were organized labor representatives, the AFL-CIO, and eventually members of organizations dedicated to socialreform of human rigahts. The argument was that there was no need of the program because there was no shortage of labor, thus enacting the program would result in giving jobs that could have gone to Americans to temporary employment workers contracted from Mexico. This goes hand in hand with some of the current debates that occur locally and nationally. Those who are against immigration reform, or immigration in general, hold a strong view that undocumented workers take jobs that Americans can take advantage of. By having the Mexican labor force ready and willing to take employment, Americans were perceived to have the choice to take jobs regardless of standards or let temporary workers from the Bracero Program take those jobs. Eventually, demands for temporary workers arose due to a draft issued in the United States for war.

Mexico's oppositions to the Bracero Program were slightly different from America's opposition. Mexico feared that the labor shortage was in fact a hoax, and America was indeed seeking cheap labor, and this taking advantage of Mexicans willing to provide the inexpensive labor. Another major concern was that Mexico's economy would be affected if the agricultural workers left for employment in the United States.

On the other hand, Mexico saw the benefits to participating in the Bracero Program. The Braceros would become more skilled in their agriculture, and thus return as more educated citizens of Mexico once their employment was completed in the United States. The Mexican economy would also be better off by taking advantage of the temporary employment, because the people who did participate in the program would be making money to support their families in Mexico, making Mexico's economy productive, balancing the scale where poverty dominated.

The pros outweighed the cons and both Nations accepted the Bracero Program. Workers were recruited in Mexico City and sent to the United States for employment. With the participation of both nations, a bilateral program was successfully formed.

Guarantees were made to the Braceros stating that they would not be involved in any type of military service for America or be subjected to any discriminatory acts. Transportation, living expenses and repatriation were also guaranteed to the Braceros. The pay was to be equal to what a citizen would receive, and never be under the amount of thirty cents per hour. A three dollar per day subsistence wage would be due for Braceros who were unemployed for more than twenty-five percent of the contract period, and if they were unemployed for less than twenty-five percent of the contract period, they were to receive the same amount of unemployment money that an American citizen would be entitled to.

Although Mexican workers were making good use of American soil for agriculture, American growers eventually wanted a direct hiring technique rather than the government-to-government recruiting technique established. This was achieved, as well as a change from being administration from the Farm Security Administration to the War Food Administration. The drawback to this adjustment was that it increased immigration. It became easier to get hired once the Mexicans were already in the United States, and as they caught on to that they crossed the border illegally and got hired once in the United States.

Upon enacting Public Law 78, provisions to the Bracero Program changed. Braceros were to be provided in areas that met all three criterions: a) domestic worker shortage, b) the Bracero utilization would not diminish domestic workers quality of employment, such as pay, and working conditions, and c) the employer had to have attempted to fill the job with domesticworkers and failed, making the Bracero necessary. Also, the government-to-government system was reenacted. Mexico was to receive thirty day notices as far as numbers of workers needed, and Mexican officials reviewed and approved representatives of the U.S. Labor Department forrecruitment. From recruitment sites, Braceros would be transported to a reception center in America, where growers could contract from.

The passage to the United States would be paid by the Bracero's employer, and shelter, food, and transportation would be the responsibility of the employer as well for the Bracero. Wages would be a determined amount, or the prevailing wage in the area, whichever was higher. Unemployment was again compensated if the time unemployed exceeded twenty-five percent of the contracted time. Finally, Braceros were also allowed to join American union forces.

Although the law became stricter, Braceros faced insufficient food and poor living standards, wages that were inadequate, unemployment during contract periods, and unsafe working conditions. Some Braceros left their employers due to these living conditions.

When the article providing information was published, the economy was booming and a bilateral agreement would have been appropriate and well received. The economy is no longer booming, but reasons to stay friendly with Mexico were revealed.

The United States needs to keep Mexico happy because there are significant numbers of Mexican voters in the United States, and if they become upset they may vote in conspiracy for anti-American values. Unintentionally, the United States also gives undocumented workers incentive to stay in America because re-entry becomes more difficult as time progresses.

The goal of a bilateral program such as the Bracero Program is to reduce and maintain immigration at a tolerable level, and still protect democratic values and civil liberties.

Immigration does not have to cease completely, nor an amnesty issued. The goal is to find a middle ground for an already existing issue. By implementing a bilateral program, both nations can benefit economically. If something like this were to repeat itself, it would give room formore control of living standards for people who are currently undocumented workers (Bickerton, 2001)

H1-B (Federal)

H1-B visas are granted to foreign workers with at least a Bachelor's degree in a "specialty occupation." These visas are most widely seen in the Information Technology sector, with a main supply of workers from India. People granted these visas are sponsored by their employers. The employer must solicit the worker, and the worker can only be in the United States if employed by the employer who sponsors them, or if another company sponsoring H1-B visa workers hires them. There are many ways that a H1-B worker could work his or her way into legal residency, although the particular visa grants only up to a six year stay. Along with these rules, this visa prohibits the visa holder's spouse from being employed in the United States. This was an act created by means of the Immigration Act of 1990.

The debate that exists is that Americans want to protect good American jobs for American workers, and India views this visa as indispensible for their economy. India benefits by having workers employed in the United States because of higher income (Tannock, 2009).

Opponents to the H1-B Visa are those who hold the view point that Americans become vulnerable by these cheap and under qualified employees willing to work for less. If they workfor less, Americans have no basis to demand better pay. Another popular complaint is that if good jobs are given to foreign special occupation workers, American students are being excluded from the job market, making their education worthless (Chakravartty, 2006.)

Employees employed through these visas help the national economy, because wages are taxed as are all legally functioning jobs.

Development, Relief, & Education for Alien Minors (D.R.E.A.M. Act) (Federal)

Undocumented students face difficulties achieving higher education because of financial barriers caused by their lack of legal status in the United States. Generally, these students are not qualified for financial aid, and most states consider them ineligible for state financial aid as well. In 1996 federal rules were set stating that states have to pass legislation in order to obtain in-state residency option for undocumented students.

Situations have taken place in which the opposite effect is accomplished, such as in Georgia and Arizona where legislation approved removing in-state tuition rates or financial aid from undocumented students currently receiving them. A step further from this removal of financial resources is South Carolina, the state which in 2008 banned undocumented students from attending state institutions. Alabama's higher education board consecutively followed this example.

In contrasting states, legislation does cooperate for the benefit of these vulnerable students. Texas is one of the most generous states, with the first statute in favor of granting undocumented students resident tuition (Olivas, 2009).

Ridding undocumented students of out-of-state tuition rates and granting them in-state tuition rates is what the D.R.E.A.M. Act is geared towards, as well as putting these students on the path for legal permanent residence. Legal definitions of citizenship do not include undocumented students in the nation. This leads to undocumented students being stigmatized with the notion that they do not count as people in the United States, unless it is a non-discriminatory matter, such as taxes which everyone pays regardless of their legal status. Their contributions to the nation such as labor benefit the nation, but go unrecognized in this sense.

Among the benefits of the D.R.E.A.M. Act are: Higher education (leading to higher income rates which in turn benefit the growth of the nation's economy), an incentive for Latino students to reduce high drop out rates, and a reward for their character and success overcoming challenges presented by the inconvenience of lacking legal status. This act was originally proposed in August of 2001 and the provisions were that the student had to have lived in the United States for a minimum of five years, and be under the age of 21. The act would put them on the track to obtain legal immigration status, and make these students eligible for some financial assistance. A few restrictions would apply, such as remaining ineligible for federal and state financial aid and Pell grants. An amendment was quickly attached to include undocumented students on the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System. This database was created after the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the purpose is to track students who are studying in the United States internationally.

Plyer V. Doe is a very popular trial in the debate of the D.R.E.A.M. Act. This case made it a federal mandate that undocumented children could not be denied free k-12 education in public schools. This was decided with the mentality that denying these children this basic andfundamental education would be punishing them for the acts of their parents. Abundantly cases depict stories of children being brought to the United States during an age in which they had no choice of their own to do so. This is very distressing for those who only know the American life and are deported to their "home" country in which they are not fluent in their tongue, nor linked with family if any at all remains in the respective country.

Currently there are eight states which enact their own versions of the D.R.E.A.M. Act; they grant undocumented students in-state tuition rates. Approximately twenty-one other states are in debate regarding this notion. Most participating states grant undocumented students in-state tuition rates using some of the same requirements, more or less. The students have to be state residents, having completed high school within that state for three or more years, have graduated or attained similar certification from a state high school, and be currently enrolled or accepted by a state college university. Furthermore, Texas and Oklahoma offer state financial aid to the vulnerable student population in question, and Utah allows them to qualify for one of the need-based scholarships that exist.

Opposition to the D.R.E.A.M. Act exists based on belief that the enactment of it would promote mass immigration. It is also considered unfair to American students because there are limited numbers of in-state tuitions and undocumented students will be unjustly taking American students spots for these rates. Harsher criticisms state that the undocumented students have no right to be here, and need to pay their parents' consequences in order to ensure legal American students' rights are not diminished.

Opponents also believe the D.R.E.A.M. Act is a substantial illegal alien amnesty masked as an educational initiative.

Common Influence

These policies do not directly influence each other. However, each is an attempt of converting immigration from a negative perception to a negotiable perception. The Bracero Act influences symbiotic relations between Mexico and the United States. H1-B visas promote a government-to-government mutually benefitting relationship between other nations, predominately India, and the United States. The D.R.E.A.M. Act focuses on finding a solution for students who are already in the country to be productive (and more lucrative) components to the nation in the future. These students already exist in the nation, but the D.R.E.A.M. Act is geared towards recognizing them legally. Each of these policies has or is able to benefit the nation's economy.


Over time, these policies have addressed immigration reform in a direct manner. The Bracero Act was the first attempt and trial of a bilateral immigration reform, and depending on the economy and incentives for nations to participate, something similar could be enacted to directly confront the lack of undocumented workers' rights. Because they lack legal status, most undocumented workers are forced to accept poor working conditions regardless of standards Americans are guaranteed. If they were recognized as legal workers, they too could fight for guaranteed standards issued by the American government.

H-1B visas do not directly address immigration reform, but it is a form of government-to-government approved labor trade. These workers are also often stigmatized, but they have more freedom to exceed justice in the workplace than an undocumented worker may sense.

The D.R.E.A.M. Act, if passed, will directly confront the rights of a portion of the country's undocumented population. The students affected will be able to contribute to the country's labor force in a legal way, therefore gaining the right to exceed just working conditions, and as a result the country's economy can reasonably be expected to flow with increased tax revenue and overall monetary flow.

  • Bickerton, Maria E. "Prospects for a Bilateral Immigration Agreement with Mexico: Lessons from the Bracero Program." Texas Law Review 79.895 (2001): 895-919. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.
  • Chakravartty, Paula. "Symbolic Analysts or Indentured Servants? Indian High-Tech Migrants in America's Information Economy." Knowledge, Technology, & Policy 19.3 (2006): 27-43. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.
  • Ford, Timothy C., Brian Logan, and Jennifer Logan. "NAFTA or Nada? Trade's Impact on U.S.Border Retailers." Growth and Change 40.3 (2009): 260-86. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.
  • Galindo, Rene, Christina Medina, and Xochitl Chavez. "Dual Sources of Influence on Latino Political Identity: Mexico's Dual Nationality Policy and the DREAM Act." Texas Hispanic Journal of Law & Policy 11.75 (2005): 74-98. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.
  • Medina, Eliseo. "Immigration Reform at a Transformational Moment in US History." Social Policy Spring (2005): 15-16. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.
  • Olivas, Michael A. "The Review of Higher Education." Project Muse 32.3 (2009): 1-8. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.
  • Tannock, Stuart. "White-collar imperialisms: The H-1B debate in America." Social Semiotics 19.3 (2009): 311-27. EBSCO. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.

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