“Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways…I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” -President Trump, State of the Union 2019
America is a nation of immigrants. Our shared history began with immigrants coming to the New World to seek religious freedom, an escape from oppression, and opportunities beyond their homeland.
Today, we see this same spirit in the hearts of the modern immigrant. Many come to create better lives, building their own American dream under the credence, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Legitimizing the process under which immigrants come to America is the first crucial step to rebuilding the relationship that America once had with immigrants. As it stands, many citizens are disenchanted with the concept of immigration because of the large numbers that come into the country illegally.
As many Americans struggle with poverty, joblessness, and food insecurity, it is easy to look elsewhere for someone to blame. Recently, the gaze is falling squarely on those we perceive to be stealing jobs and using vital welfare resources-- illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, legal immigrants are often wrapped into the same packaging, ostracized and criticized for their “otherness.”
The Workforce Visa Act seeks to turn this idea on its head. Legal immigrants in the United States help build the nation, bringing in vital workforce assistance, contributing to the tax system, and sharing invaluable life and cultural experiences that would not otherwise exist within our borders.
Workforce Visa Act Policy Overview
This new merit-based and employer-chosen visa is built on a foundation of “Seven Planks:”
Foreign nationals are granted a one year guest worker visa at the cost of $2,500. This visa can be renewed indefinitely if proof of valid employment and an additional $2,500 is provided.
Employers are incentivized to hire Americans first because employers can only hire these visa workers if they pay them back $2,500 over one year as a part of their monthly wage.
The working immigrant is directly contributing to the state where they are employed. The $2,500 goes into a trust fund for workforce development in the State where the visa holder is employed. It is then used to fund apprenticeships, job training, job placement, and other workforce development skills.
Current visa paths towards legal permanent residence are confusing, hard to access, or do not exist. Under the Workforce Visa Act, visa holders may adjust status to legal permanent residence after 10 consecutive years if they pay an additional $25,000 or work an additional 10 years. This will incentivize visa holders to comply with the laws, work hard, and be rewarded for pursuing residence legally. In turn, the number of immigrants illegally overstaying their visa will decline.
Welfare resources will not be overtaxed by immigrants. Visa holders are not eligible for any means tested public benefits of any kind and if they adjust status to legal permanent resident, they cannot claim benefits retroactively.
Employers will be held to high standards in assuring that their employees are legally eligible to participate in the program. According to the site, “E-Verify employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching information provided by employees on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against records available to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” All employers who hire these visa-holding employees must be a part of E-Verify.
All visa holders will have the right to join a labor union if it exists at their place of work.
Why Support the Workforce Visa Act?
They say prevention is worth a pound of cure.
In order to create a stronger nation, we must continue to open our arms to those who wish to come into the country legally. Only then can we begin to responsibly function as part of a global community. Thoughtful immigration with a mutually beneficial design is only the first step in this process.
While immigrants do enrich the country, we must find ways to stop the tide of illegal entrance into the United States. As it stands, the immigration process is complicated and seemingly impossible for those who do not have the resources to immigrate because of issues in their own country.
In most cases, illegal immigrants don’t want to be here illegally, but they feel desperate enough to risk life and limb to come to America. Creating an accessible path incentivizes immigrants to avoid this dangerous and illegal choice.
As a nation, we stand as a herald for those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. This is something we should be proud of, but with it comes immense responsibility. We are finally facing an immigration solution that will create a route for valuable, hardworking immigrants to enjoy the American dream.