The most fundamental problem with the guest worker program is that the employer – not the worker – decides whether a worker can come to the U.S. and whether he or she can stay. Guest workers are allowed to work only for the employer who “imports” them. This arrangement skews the balance of power between employer and employee so much that a worker’s rights are effectively nullified.

At any moment, an employer can fire a worker and send him home – or even call immigration officials and declare the worker an “illegal.” One of the most common abuses reported by guest workers concerns the seizure of passports and other identity documents by employers.