Lettuce have your huddled masses: Work force becomes truly globalized.
Beset by an immigration war on one front and just plain war on another front, government officials in the U.S. are frantically seeking more illegals for necessary farm work here and longer stays in Baghdad for shanghaied foreigners to build the unnecessary supermax American embassy.
As Nicole Gaouette of the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday,
The effort, urgently underway at the departments of Homeland Security, State and Labor, is meant to rescue farm owners caught in a vise between a complex process to hire legal guest workers and stepped-up enforcement that has reduced the number of illegal planters, pickers and middle managers crossing the border.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, workers from the Philippines and other countries who were shanghaied by U.S.-hired contractors to build the supermax U.S. embassy will probably be roped into staying longer as that project falls behind and its cost soars toward $1 billion. Check out the testimony at intrepid California congressman Henry Waxman‘s July hearing for details on the shanghai gestures.
As I wrote on August 8:
That story was broken by others, including David Phinney of Inter Press Service in June, who noted that contractor First Kuwaiti has reaped $2 billion from U.S. taxpayers for construction of military camps and the embassy. Phinney wrote:
Wait a sec. As Phinney also notes, Filipino laborers at the new embassy are making much more than that:
Pay is marginally better in our fields. Gaouette’s Times story mentions almost by the way that “almost three-quarters of farmworkers are thought to be illegal immigrants.”
The percentage of people who mow our lawns is probably even higher, but anyway, Gaouette notes that the White House is extremely concerned about this aspect of the free-market economy:
The push to speedily rewrite the regulations is also the Bush administration’s attempt to step into a breach left when Congress did not pass an immigration overhaul in June that might have helped American farms.
These are truly salad days for government officials in the U.S. as they quietly chew on these labor-force problems. Gaouette noted:
Pursued not for the sake of the workers but of the corporate farms that depend on cheap labor.
Slave work in Baghdad or California — take your pick. Farmworkers don’t get health benefits, and the embassy is going to have a full-time psychiatrist for counseling and drugs, so Iraq seems the better bet: At least your boss in Iraq will be medicated.