Temporary Worker, Permanent Alien: An Analysis of Guest Worker Programs in the United States and Canada
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Over the last several decades, economic globalization has presented many `advanced' economies with a dilemma between facilitating the flow of goods while simultaneously regulating the flow of labor. This contradiction has manifested itself in the immigration policies of Canada and the U.S., which have each pursued distinct strategies for importing foreign workers to maintain global economic competition. Such workers, whether legal `guest workers' or `illegal' immigrants, reside within the boundaries of the state, yet remain permanent aliens. This dissertation explores how guest worker policy specifically and immigration policy more broadly have been constructed and debated in national political discourse from 1990 to 2010. In addition, research in two rural case study communities reveals how labor markets and social geographies are re-shaped by the interaction between workers of varying legal and `illegal' statuses. This multi-scaled and comparative analysis of the understudied issue of guest worker programs reveals how different forms of exclusion, constructed at national and local scales, become deeply interwoven together to produce new labor market realities and reinforce national identities predicated on protecting the composition of the nation while actively promoting global economic competition.