State-based Guest Worker Bill Starts Conversation on Workforce Needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado) are expected to introduce a bill that would allow states to sponsor temporary guest workers.

The State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017 would make it possible for state legislatures to create nonimmigrant visa programs, with approval from the Department of Homeland Security. Workers would be able to change employers within the sponsoring state. The visa would last no more than three years and would be renewable.

“We have a shortage of workers in all different areas of the economy,” Johnson told the Wall Street Journal. “ … A lot of business can’t hire enough people at any wage.”

“This bill from two leading conservatives starts an important conversation about workforce needs, not just enforcement,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

“The concept is constructive. The key is to support American jobs and workers and make sure all workers have the same protections. We also need action on a variety of other immigration solutions that will boost American workers and help immigrants contribute.

“Creating legal avenues for immigrant and temporary workers in response to workforce needs will support a healthy economy and reinforce respect for the rule of law.”

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