BUSINESS REACTS
What will immigration reform mean for employers of
less-skilled immigrants?
In May 2013, ImmigrationWorks held a briefing for congressional staffers on how to fix the immigration system so it works for employers and for the U.S. economy. Participants discussed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act's proposed W Visa program for low-skilled immigrant workers and E-Verify mandates introduced recently in the House and Senate. Why does the U.S. need a less-skilled worker visa program? Is the W Visa program well designed? Speakers included representatives of a range of employers who rely on immigrant workers.

 

MODERATOR Tamar Jacoby President, ImmigrationWorks USA

"The W Visa program for low-skilled immigrant workers is a well-crafted blueprint. In contrast to most temporary worker programs, applying for a slot will be streamlined and predictable and the size of the program adjusts automatically according to U.S. labor needs."

 

 
Madeleine Sumption Senior policy analyst, Migration Policy Institute

"The unauthorized population increased by 500,000 people a year between 2000 and 2007, illustrating the high demand for these workers. The question is whether there will be a temporary worker program that can accommodate the country’s labor needs when the economy recovers."

 

Jay Perron Vice president, government affairs and public policy, International Franchise Association

"There are not enough Americans willing to be dishwashers and fill positions at fast-food restaurants. Americans are increasingly better educated and are seeking higher-paying opportunities. This is why we need a temporary worker program."

 

 
Geoff Burr Vice president, federal affairs, Associated Builders and Contractors

"Construction can never have more than 15,000 visas per year under the W Visa program. The program is too small to fill our workforce needs. Even in the downturn, construction employers in many pockets of the country cannot find enough American workers."

 

Jenna Hamilton Partner, Capitol Legislative Strategies

"After months of negotiations, the E-Verify title in Senate bill S.744 is much improved. The drafters took into account employers’ top concerns – including ensuring that employers won’t be held liable for workers from companies they have contracts with."