- RODOLFO ACUNA, “Guest Worker Program in U.S.” Los Angeles Times, Times Apr 17, 1980; pg. F6
I read Frank Del Olmo’s article (April 4) on Julian Nava’s confirmation as U.S. ambassador in Washington for the State Department briefings and his comments on the guest worker program indicate that the Carter Administration is giving the program serious consideration.
No matter how beautifully this program, is packaged, it is a repetition of the bracero program, which thwarted the organization of agricultural labor throughout the Southwest.
Advocates of the guest worker program always point to European models as if the programs there had been equitable to all sides. Even if this as the case, there are important differences that must be examined.
First, the guest worker program in Europe was initiated during a period when some nations had a tremendous shortage of labor.
Second, the guest workers primarily entered the industrial sector and relatively few worked in agriculture.
Third, farms in Europe are not the factory farms that we have in the States, thus the relationship between employee/employer was not the same.
Fourth, trade unions in Europe were and are much stronger than in the United States and consequently played a much larger role in the formation of the guest worker program.
Fifth, the administration of the guest worker program would be in the hands of U.S. bureaucrats and agencies, which have been historically anti-Mexican – treating Mexcan labor as a cheap commodity to be exploited to its fullest.
Advocates of the guest worker program should examine and thoroughly investigate the results of those programs in Europe. You may only have to view films such as “bread and Chocolate” to understand the sub-class status that these workers in Europe suffer under. The European guest worker programs have not resulted in an amelioration of racism nor have they led to any improvement in the bargaining power of the less developed nations from which the guest workers come.
A guest worker program in the United States would make the U.S. government a labor contractor for the benefit of big business. The program would be administered for the benefit of big business. The largeness of the program would have built in evils that would allow for the manipulation of the workers and increase the dependence of Mexico on the United States and the program.
This program would not slow down the flow of labor into the United States but would in effect accelerate it. It would give the U.S. government a dangerous weapon with which to interfere into Mexico’s internal affairs.
 The issue of the guest worker program has resurfaced and it is popular among many on the right and left. The debate has been muted by the growing xenophobia. The right has a dilemma. They don’t want any more Mexicans but U.S. agri-business is being wiped out because of a lack of farm workers.