Remembering George H.W. Bush through the Immigration Act, 1990

George H.W. Bush

One of the most lasting, yet debatable legacies of George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, has been the Immigration Act of 1990. Under this act, a series of employment-based visas were created which allowed businesses within the country to import cheaper foreign workers rather than hire American citizens.

The legislation introduced by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) in 1989, ushered the US into an era of cheap labor. The Act underscored employment opportunities that would have otherwise gone to American citizens.

President Donald Trump’s immigration policies have also come under fire from Liberals and Democrats alike, who see it as a way to reduce the element of diversity in the American society.

Trump’s immigration policies encompass six broad areas:

It would rescind deportation deferrals for immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, offering a 12-year path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants who arrived in the country illegally.

The President’s immigration policy restricts travel and work visas from eight countries that include, Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

The administration has also increased screening of refugees while cutting staff. It also doubled the number of people it characterizes as high-risk, intensifying their screening process. As a result, it’s estimated that only 20,000 refugees will enter America by the end of the year.

Trump’s budget also includes funding for a border wall along Mexico to prevent people and drugs from coming into the United States through the southern border.

The President has also attempted to streamline the appeal process for asylum-seekers. The administration intends to deport anyone who shows up at the border without proper documentation.

It is also reviewing the H-1B visa program.

On the other hand, George H.W. Bush’s pro-business legislation brought in an excess of 3 million temporary visa holders, and added more than 15 million legal immigrants to the US population.

The immigration policy of George H.W. Bush created a ‘cheap foreign labor economy’ that flattened wages for working and middle-class Americans, slowed innovation in capital intensive production and facilitated displacement of ordinary citizens.

The Bush Sr. immigration legislation ushered America into the era H-1B visas, used to import highly skilled white-collar foreign workers; the H-2A visa, used to import cheaper foreign agricultural labor; and the H-2B visa, used to bring in blue-collar nonagricultural foreign workers, thereby facilitating the economic displacement of ordinary Americans.

While the Democrats advocate a complete reversal of Trump’s policies, citing the need for cheap labor to sustain America’s economic clout; Republicans on the other hand, favor a nationalistic immigration strategy that is aimed at creating better opportunities and higher wages for US citizens, hence preserving its social and cultural identity.


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