The Senate bill creates a ‘W visa’ for lower-skilled workers with a cap of 20,000 in the first year, and with increases up to 75,000 visas by the 4th year. Thereafter caps would be determined by a formula devised by a new statistical agency called the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research. A W visa would permit a foreign-born worker who is not a permanent resident to perform services or labor for a registered employer in a registered position.
Will these visas be sufficient to have a notable impact on the flow of future unauthorized workers entering the United States?
Will they satisfy demand for workers in a recovering economy?
Will workers enjoy greater flexibility and choice under this system?
Thinking more broadly about migrant flows and the economy, the annual flow of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico alone was about half a million per year between 2000 and 2005. In subsequent years the numbers declined dramatically, to about 150,000 per year between 2007 and 2010, as a result of the recession of 2007-2009 and increased border security.
Now that we are out of a recession and the U.S. economy is growing at a faster rate than expected, what will be the impact of a likely surge in the demand for workers, combined with the proposed increased penalties for both unauthorized immigrants and employers who hire them?
What new push and pull factors—such as improvements in the Mexican economy—are emerging that may affect the future flow of workers and how might that affect the W visa program?