Immigration reform: The coming fight over the low-skilled-worker visa
But even if the policy is right that doesn’t mean the politics are, and the W-visa already seems to have as many enemies as friends, even among the groups that negotiated it. On the left, some unions are unhappy with the proposal because unemployment is still high and they think the W-visa will only keep it that way. They believe punishing businesses that hire illegal immigrants will ultimately force employers to raise wages to make low-skilled jobs more attractive to American citizens.
Some business groups, for their part, says the program is flawed not because it lets in too many immigrants, but because it doesn’t let in enough. The program would start by issuing 20,000 W-visas per year, then move up to 75,000 after four years. New offices at the Labor Department and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services would oversee a complicated program to determine when and whether it climbs to an upper limit of 200,000.
Pro-business groups say 350,000 low skilled illegal workers came to the U.S. every year from 2003-09. If the number of W-visas don’t satisfy labor market demand, they say, other immigrants will come in illegally to fill the gap, undermining the W-visa program. For their part, conservatives fighting to reduce the massive government growth of the last ten years oppose the new federal offices.
The bill’s biggest opponents are those who believe rising immigration is a drag on the American economy and way of life.