“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
In 1565, Spanish ships arrived in what is now Florida. Leading the charge was Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. When they docked, they declared their new home in the name of Spain and set about creating the first permanent settlement of America.
Twenty years later, the Roanoke colony was established on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina. Soon came to Jamestown in 1607, then Plymouth in 1620. By 1770, upwards of 2 million were creating a new in America.
Along the way, hundreds of thousands of immigrants set foot on new soil, seeking glory, God, and gold. They were the original seekers of the American dream, traveling on perilous journeys from Europe and beyond to create a new life where people could revolt, protest, invent, create, and grow without fear of oppression.
We are a nation of immigrants, built on the backs of brave, everyday people who struck out to discover what all the fuss was about in the New World. From its very beginning, America was a melting pot where people could come to reap a wealth of opportunities, from forging the frontier to opening up shop in the city.
Today, we enjoy much of the same freedom of choice. Children are told that they can be whoever they want to be. Grandparents go back to school in their seventies to learn something new. Communities of Muslims, Jewish people, Christians, and every other religion, come together to break bread at each other’s tables. Small hamlets of various cultures melded together over time, forming the tapestry of society that we enjoy in the United States.
Today, just as it was nearly 500 years ago, legal immigrants serve as an irreplaceable piece of the American puzzle. With them comes innovation, inventiveness, and a drive to make the United States a better place for future generations.
Finding the solution to immigration reform is going to take much more than a bipartisan solution. With so many elements at play, the only path to success is one that strikes a balance between preserving American values and celebrating global cooperation. While we must do all that we can to protect our citizens, we cannot neglect the merit of the American immigrant.
The Workplace Visa Act is one such solution.
The Seven Planks of the Workforce Visa Act
This act sets forth seven core tenets that equalize America’s need for a growing workforce with our wish to keep America’s ideals and values firmly planted.
These planks include:
A 1-year guest worker visa.
Employers can hire these workers if they pay them back the $2,500 over the 1 year as a part of their monthly wage.
The $2,500 goes into a trust fund for workforce development in the State where the visa holder is employed.
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.
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.
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.
Over the next few months, we’ll take a closer look at each of these seven planks and how they work comprehensively to create sustainable immigration reform.
Plank 1: One Year Guest Worker Visa
The first plank of the Act most directly addresses problems with a lack of workforce. Through the Workforce Visa Act, employers can invite foreign nationals to fill positions that haven’t been filled by American workers, but only if the worker is willing to pay a $2,500 fee for the 1-year guest visa. For a relatively low cost, hardworking immigrants eager to become a part of our country could temporarily contribute back into economic systems that our citizens so desperately need.
One of the most pressing issues facing our country is a lack of workforce. A troubling combination of depopulation, social security concerns, and an unchanging cap on the number of H1-B visa holders has created precarious economic circumstances that could be solved by reinvigorating struggling industries.
As it stands, the population of working adults is decreasing, leaving gaps in our nation’s labor force. We are losing productive workers over time, reducing America’s ability to produce, negatively impacting our ability to rely on American-made goods and to earn revenue through exported goods.
This also means that less people are contributing into social security, leaving one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations to fend for themselves after years of contributing to the fund.
The solution, it seems, would be to help more people find their place in the workforce by creating more jobs. The reality is that America already has a surplus of positions open… We just don’t have enough people to fill them.
With 7.2 million job openings and 6.0 million people who are unemployed in the US, we are left with 1.2 million jobs that still need to be filled. Mathematically, the United States could accept 14 times the amount of legal, visa-holding immigrants without ever touching the jobs of every unemployed, native-born American.
With the Workforce Visa Act, we can bring legal immigrants into the country to help build up struggling rural economies and a threatened SSI program. We can essentially reverse the effects of depopulation, filling in the gaps left by a downward trending birth rate.
Should the employer find that the position is well-suited for the person employed, the visa is renewable with another valid offer of employment and $2,500 fee. This can continue for up to twenty years, giving immigrants a path to citizenship that doesn’t require overly complicated hoops to jump through. In the meantime, our issues with depopulation and lack of labor force would be all but solved, at little-to-no cost to the American people.
The first plank spells out a win-win for our own nation and for the people seeking to enrich it with their cultures, talents, and productivity. The Workforce Visa Act ticks all the boxes for a non-partisan solution to immigration. It does not focus on the needs or wants of one party or the other. Instead, it focuses on the needs and wants of the American people.