Long-time immigration advocate state Senator Harry Coates praised the GOP this week for endorsing a national Guest Worker Program in the Republican National Platform. The Seminole Republican has been encouraging his state colleagues for years to recognize the importance to Oklahoma businesses of allowing illegal immigrants to work in the state.
“Although nothing may come of the endorsement, it’s still a huge victory that the Republican Party has finally acknowledged the importance to our nation’s economy of having some type of guest worker program,” said Coates. “The Hispanic population is the largest in our country. They have a strong voice and a major impact on our economy, both at the state and national level. Conservatives need to wake up and realize there are millions of jobs out there, like in the agricultural, janitorial and construction industries among others, that most people just aren’t willing to do. We must help provide our business owners with a willing workforce.”
Coates also pointed out that the current oil boom has pulled many workers away from minimum wage jobs in Oklahoma’s smaller communities for much higher-paying jobs with oil companies. Small towns are having difficulty filling those positions at restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and other places. Coates believes having a guest worker program in place would allow those business owners to be able to fill those positions.
“The Hispanic vote is going to play a major role in the November elections. Democrats realized this four years ago, yet the Republicans ignored this demographic by refusing to give any consideration to real immigration reform,” said Coates. “Hopefully, the Republican Party learned its lesson and will stop running from the issue and listen to the millions of business owners and farmers nationwide who want a national guest worker program.”
It was the Texas Republican Party who encouraged the Republican National Platform Committee to endorse a national guest worker program. Texas set an example with their 2012 RPT immigration platform, the Texas Solution.
“Texas has shown the nation that there are a variety of ways to address the immigration situation. Texas is a very conservative border state that probably deals with the illegal immigration issue more than any other state besides California. If they can find a solution, surely Congress and our national leaders can,” said Coates.