The vast majority of media attention on the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill has focused on three aspects: the legalization of illegal immigrants, the promise of future enforcement (and to what degree that promise will be broken), and the political fallout of the bill and debates about it. However, the Gang of Eight bill also makes far-reaching reforms to other aspects of the immigration system. Under the proposed bill, the nation’s guest-worker programs would be considerably expanded — and this expansion has major implications for the nation as a whole, especially its workers. This guest-worker program could have three big outcomes: bigger government, bigger downward pressure on wages, and bigger problems for the GOP and the future of conservative principles.
Under this bill, the three principal guest-worker programs would be agricultural, low-skilled labor, and high-skilled labor. According to Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, the U.S. already issues 700,000 guest-worker visas a year. Some of these visa-holders work in the U.S. for a short period of time, but others can stay for much longer. The Gang of Eight bill significantly increases the number of guest-worker visas. The annual cap on H-1B visas — meant for “high-skill” guest workers, especially those in technical fields — would immediately jump from 65,000 to 110,000. This new cap would be the floor for H-1B visa numbers in the future, and it would have the potential to rise in further years, all the way up to 180,000.Read the rest here.