Immigration reform should be comprehensive, needs to address future workforce needs through a guestworker program, must include a solution to address the existing unauthorized worker population, and needs to implement a fair employment eligibility verification system.
Immigration reform should strengthen homeland security by providing for the screening of foreign workers and creating a disincentive for illegal immigration. Any bill should strengthen the rule of law by establishing clear, sensible immigration laws that are efficiently and vigorously enforced.
New Guest Worker Program
Any immigration reform must include a new worker program that allows an employer to sponsor a foreign worker when no American workers are available through a new guest worker program. There must be a sufficient number of these visas available to avoid mistakes made in previous reforms, which limited employer-based immigration and had the unintended consequence of creating a black market for illegal labor. Implementing a functional future flow program will strengthen border security and improve American productivity. EWIC supports a short-term program for industries that have short-term needs, but also recognizes that many employers have long-term needs and so it is necessary that any new guest worker program can be extended. An outline of EWIC’s Lesser-Skilled Worker Program can be found here.
Mechanism for Undocumented Workers in the U.S. to Earn Legal Status
Employers desire a stable workforce. The undocumented immigrants that are working in America today are busy contributing to the U.S. economy and are unlikely to self-deport, yet they often live in the shadows. Reform must establish a mechanism to allow undocumented, taxpaying and otherwise admissible workers in the U.S. to earn a legal status. Any bill must include clear requirements and obligations for eligible and qualified participants.
Workable and Fair Employment Eligibility Verification System
Currently there is a mandatory, outdated paper employment verification system (the I-9 form), and a patchwork of state and local laws that require different levels of participation in the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program. This mess of different requirements is difficult for employers to navigate. Immigration reform should mandate a fair employment eligibility verification system with one national standard that functions efficiently and inexpensively for employers, workers, and government agencies. It is also critical that employers do not have to re-verify their existing workforce, which would be a huge burden for both the economy and workers. New enforcement regimes must not penalize employers for their past inability to comply with a broken system.