A GOP Immigration Bill That Actually Makes Sense

Amid debate over closing our borders and building walls or blanket amnesty and unfettered open borders; two Republican congressmen have proposed an immigration based on the principles of free markets and federalism.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado have proposed a bill that would allow states to issue their own guest worker visas. Despite what restrictionists may say, the US labor market is very tight and there’s a big demand for imported labor, both skilled and unskilled.

Companies need at least twice as many foreign tech workers as Uncle Sam will let them hire. As usual, this year’s annual H-1B visa cap for 85,000 high-skilled workers filled up within days of opening. Companies that don’t land a visa this year will have to wait a year before they can re-enter the H-1B lottery — by which time the foreign techie they were planning to hire will be working for an Australian or Singaporean company.

But high-tech companies are the lucky ones. Matters are far worse on the low-skilled front. Farmers need H-1A visas to hire farmhands. But the requirements for these visas are so onerous and the outcome so uncertain that they are practically unusable. Meanwhile, the demand for seasonal laborers in industries such as construction, landscaping, and hospitality is about four times the annual allotment of visas. The worst part, though, is that by the time federal bureaucrats are done processing the applications, the season is done.

 – Shikha Dalmia, The Week
The State-Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017 would give every state an initial average of 10,000 visas annually: 5,000 for each state and 245,000 visas divided
among the 50 states and D.C. based on population.
We have a shortage of workers in all different areas of the economy. We need to recognize that a one-size-fits-all federal model for visas or guest workers doesn’t work.
Let the states manage the visas, allocate them to the industries that need the workers, set prevailing wage rates. I think states would do a better job of protecting their state workers — American workers — as well as making sure their industries have the people they need to be able to grow.
– Ron Johnson
The bill is very similar to Canadian and Australian immigration laws — both are rated with a score of 10/10 for Freedom of Movement in CATO’s Human Freedom Index — that decentralizes immigration the regional level. David Blier’s analysis of the GOP immigration bill highlights the success of the immigration:
The Canadian Provincial Nominee Program allows provinces to nominate immigrants for permanent residency. A 2011 review of the program by Canada’s federal immigration department concluded that the program was a success and regionalized the benefits of immigration.  About 90 percent of all provincial nominees were employed or self-employed within one year, and almost 80 percent remained in the province for three years, even though there was no long-term residency requirement. The 52,460 nominees were 16.3 percent of all immigrants to Canada in 2016
Australia has four regional residency visas.  Altogether, those regions issued 40,101 visas during the 2015–2016 year, representing 31.2 percent of the skills-based immigration to Australia.  A 2004 Australian survey of one of these programs found that 91 percent of primary applicants were living in the region that originally sponsored them, despite no requirement to do so; that their unemployment rate was less than 1 percent; and that both employers and immigrants were pleased
An important difference between the GOP plan and the Aussie and Canadian models are that the former allows to states to issue only issue guest worker visas —not residency— and there are more (albeit unnecessary) regulations to ensure immigrants stay within their host state or states that form a compact to honor each other’s visas.
Guest workers will have to post a $4,000 bond that would be returned at the end of their term if they comply and states that have a non-compliance rate of at least 3 percent would lose 50 percent of their visa allotment the following year and be required to increase their bond threshold by a thousand dollars.
Overall the bill still goes in the right direction of handing more power to the states (in fact the federal government has no constitutional power to control immigration) and promoting immigration on the needs of supply and demand.
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