In my examination of Sen. Rubio’s (and the Gang of Eight) immigration bill, particularly its claim of modernizing our legal immigration system, today I take a look at guest worker program components of the bill.

Modernizing Our Legal Immigration System: Guest Worker Program
Rubio Speak

The bill establishes a guest worker program for lower-skilled workers that ensures our future flow of workers is manageable, traceable, fair to American workers, and in line with our economy’s needs. The modernization of our visa programs will ensure people who want to come legally – and who our economy needs to come legally – can do so.

The Truth about the Rubio Amnesty

  • Sen. Rubio’s bill is perfectly designed to displace millions more American workers and to continue to depress wages across the labor market. Having taken care of the “jobs Americans can’t do” by pumping up the number of H-1Bs, those “jobs Americans won’t do” will be filled by 200,000 new permanent “guest” workers 200,000 new permanent “guest” workers.
  • A new W visa will be created for non-agricultural workers (with yet another separate visa category for Ag workers) in occupations that do not require a bachelor’s degree, excepting computer occupations. This includes 18 of the top 20 fastest growing occupations in the U.S., such as registered nurses, truck drivers, and landscaping workers.
  • In March 2013, there were 6.4 million unemployed persons in the U.S. who have less than a bachelor’s degree.
  • The construction industry has a special carve-out that allocates it at least 15,000 workers, and can go as high as 66,000. In March 2013, there were 1.2 million unemployed construction workers.
  • In the “Meat, Poultry, and Fish Cutters and Trimmers” occupational category, which has a median hourly wage of $10.98 an hour, the number of guest workers can go up to 20,000 and can never go down. That one’s for you, Sen. Graham.
  • Sen. Rubio’s “conservative” solution is to create another government bureaucracy, the “Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research,” under the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). This commission would be staffed with “experts” who will determine just how acute a labor shortage there is in lesser-skilled occupations and recommend how many new guest workers should be admitted every year.
  • Employers can apply for guest workers unless the unemployment rate in a designated area is above 8.5 percent. There is no metric to account for the fact that unemployment rates have been going down across the country because Americans are dropping out of the workforce, not because they are returning work.
  • The new bureau can even declare a “shortage occupation” to allow employers to bring in workers even when unemployment is above 8.5%.
  • Sen. Rubio has made much of the requirement that employers in shortage occupations that bring in workers have to pay a slightly higher wage, but that wage would only be slightly higher than the already depressed prevailing wage. Wages for workers without college degrees have been stagnant the 1970s.