- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

Most readers will recognize the revived series of cheap shots on FAIR by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) for what it is ("FAIR Targets Abraham," July 26), an attack by party regulars paid to lobby for particular interests. This time it's the "conservative" gurus at ATR led by Grover Norquist who are mad at FAIR. Our crime? We've highlighted fraud in the H1-B foreign labor program.Never mind that most Americans abhor these programs as modern forms of indenture. Never mind that every impartial study of the practice has found that foreign labor programs push Americans out of these fields. Never mind that the overall response to the ads opposing more foreign labor has been overwhelmingly positive. And never mind that ATR is attacking FAIR because Mr. Norquist's clients fear that FAIR's views are resonating with Americans across the nation.

Mr. Norquist's clients? Full disclosure on the part of ATR president Grover Norquist would reveal that he's paid by Microsoft and others to take a positivist legislative agenda to Congress (including the importation of more foreign labor). It seems Mr. Norquist has a habit of donning more corporate hats than Dr. Seuss' Bartholomew Cubbins and neglecting to mention conflicts of interest. Mr. Norquist and his fellow travelers also claim unto themselves the right to be the sole arbiters of "true conservatism," an ideology that now inventively includes unregulated mass immigration into America.

A quick review of the history of real conservative thought from Russell Kirk to Edmund Burke (including even Adam Smith and his fellow invisible hands) suggests that support for mass immigration has been either antithetical to conservative thought or at most a neutral factor.

The real issue is whether the leadership in Congress will muster up the intestinal fortitude to move beyond its party popinjays and corporate hucksters and start listening to real Americans again. Both parties need to stop running from immigration issues. The H-1B program has been a sham from the beginning. It uses recently graduated foreign students to do jobs under conditions that discourage Americans from moving into these fields.

Don't get me wrong. Neither FAIR, nor most Americans, opposes a legitimate, clearly defined, and well-enforced program that meets unforeseeable temporary labor shortages especially one requiring extraordinary merit and ability. But the bill introduced by Sen. Spencer Abraham is no more than a blank check that generic employers could fill in as they see fit. H-1B fosters a dependency on substitutable foreign labor. That's why most H-1B workers lack extraordinary resumes. They're just plain Jane substitutes for U.S. programmers, engineers and now even fashion models and sushi chefs.

The fact that Congress is even considering a bill that would nearly double the number of skilled foreign guest workers is itself an indictment of the abject failure of our immigration policy to serve our national needs, and the extent to which special interests now control the whole process. If Mr. Abraham truly believes that we need 200,000-plus guest workers to serve our nation's economic needs, then how can he explain his continued defense of our overall legal immigration policy a policy admitting nearly one million people a year, most without a college education?

If our industries can't find the workers they claim to need out of that pool, then Mr. Abraham should be fighting for an overhaul of the entire policy, not obstructing needed reforms. Mr. Abraham, who is the Senate's immigration subcommittee chairman, needs to be looking at quality, not reflexively defending quantity. We believe like most that all institutions are meant to promote human dignity. Our free enterprise system is to serve the people our people. Ceteris paribus a country should do its own work. We believe a more limited immigration flow is consistent with our belief that there is an obligation to protect the health of our social institutions, our jobs and the environment.

Successful societies have found ways to remain economically vibrant and competitive without engaging in policies that grind the face of the American worker. In our view, no society will remain successful if it continually undermines its own communities with mass immigration.

In the name of fairness and decency for those who want equal opportunity in America, let's abolish the H-1B program once and for all. Let's get about the business of building our own economic future together, based on traditional notions of self-reliance, independence and "can do" determination. Our future American community conservative and liberal deserves nothing less.

Dan Stein is executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

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