2046 - America is burning!
"Bastards! They're all bastards!" My taxi driver shouted. But not at the other drivers -- he was cursing the Arabs who had given him a guest worker visa.
"All they do is eat, and shop, and f**k, and exploit the workers!"
Mohammed was a Pakistani Pathan, driving taxi in the Gulf on a guest worker visa for thirteen years. His hosts paid him just enough money to keep him but not enough to leave. He couldn't afford to keep his family in the Gulf, so he saw his children one month per-year, missing nearly every important event in their lives.
"I'm leaving this g*d d*mn country and these g*d d*mn people and I'm going back to Pakistan. I will tell everyone I meet that Arabs are f**king, g*d d*mn, blood-sucking bastards!"
Welcome to guest worker world.
Between invectives, Mohammed explained that many days, even after a double shift, his salary didn't cover his expenses. After thirteen years of slaving in a fatigued stupor and scrimping every extra dirham, he'd finally saved up enough to start a small grocery shop in Peshawar.
"Without good wages and a citizenship
option, guest worker visas are a
slow-cooking recipe for social disaster."
I've seen the abuses of guest-worker visas but I still support them for America -- but ONLY with a mandated living wage and citizenship option.
Without those two key provisions, guest worker visas are a slow-cooking recipe for social disaster. Paris is experiencing that now.
Without decent wages and a fair shot at citizenship, guest workers become an embittered second-class, like Mohammed, who see and smell the privileged life but never get to taste it.
Instead of cursing Arabs, millions of guest workers will go home cursing Americans (or stay and torch our streets).
Nearing our destination, Mohammed said to me, "Pray for me, my friend, and I'll pray for you."
"I'll pray that your shop will be a big success and you'll find peace about your time here," I promised.
As I counted out the fare (with a tip!) an Arab family stuck their head in the window and asked for a neighborhood in Arabic.
Mohammed replied in English, "I don't know where that is," and pulled the taxi forward half a block to get away from them.