You know what we need in this recession? More cheap foreign labor

It’s unfortunate that the “no amnesty” crowd has been able to suck up so much oxygen in this debate. Immigration hysterics on talk radio and cable news have used the term effectively to end conversations. And restrictionists in Congress have used it as a political slogan to block reform. But from a public-policy perspective, the fate of the 12 million illegals already here is largely a side issue, a problem that will solve itself over time if we get the other reforms right…

Nearly seven decades ago, the U.S. faced labor shortages in agriculture stemming from World War II, and growers turned to the Roosevelt administration for help. The result was the Bracero program, which allowed hundreds of thousands of Mexican farm workers to enter the country legally as seasonal laborers. In place from 1942 to 1964, the program was jointly operated by the departments of Justice, State and Labor. As the program was expanded after World War II to meet the labor needs of a growing U.S. economy, illegal border crossings fell by 95%. A 1980 Congressional Research Service report concluded that, “without question,” the program was “instrumental in ending the illegal alien problem of the mid-1940s and 1950s.” Apparently, the law of supply and demand doesn’t stop at the Rio Grande.