The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board featured an interesting editorial yesterday on the success of the 1942 Bracero guest worker program. Below is their chart and part of their editorial:
[Wall Street Journal] “..But the most important thing Congress could do before giving up altogether is put in place a guest-worker program for future immigrants. If we want to reduce illegal entries, let’s provide more legal ways for foreigners to enter the country. It’s worked before and it could again.
Back in 1942, in response to a shortage of agriculture workers caused by World War II, Congress authorized the Bracero guest-worker program. For the next two decades, Mexican workers were permitted to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis to fill gaps in the labor market. As the nearby chart illustrates, illegal border crossings subsequently plummeted. Between 1953 and 1959 they fell by some 95%.
In 1960, mainly in response to complaints from labor unions, the program was scaled back and eventually phased out. But there’s no reason Congress can’t put in place a Bracero- like program with proper worker protections and receive a similar result.
A guest-worker program for newcomers wouldn’t solve the problem of the 12 million illegal aliens already here, but it would help ensure that our illegal population doesn’t continue to grow. The lesson of the Bracero program is that if we provide immigrants with a regulated, legal way to enter the country, they’ll use it…”