Cardinal Theodore McCarrickWashington D.C.’s, archbishop emeritus, Theodore McCarrick, wrote an impassioned call in the Washington Post September 1, 2013 for adopting the Senate’s immigration reform bill that includes an amnesty. In his argument for the legislation, he claimed:

Despite this real need, U.S. immigration law fails to provide channels for these workers to migrate safely and legally. Visas for low-skilled workers are absurdly small given demand, with only 5,000 permanent work visas available each year.

That statement is profoundly misleading. The 5,000 visas McCarrick refers to are immigrant visas set aside for employers to sponsor low-skilled workers (often extended family members). But, the statement obscures the fact that there are guest worker visa programs specifically designed to allow low-skilled workers to enter the country to take temporary jobs. There are separate programs for both agricultural and non-agricultural low-skilled workers. The agricultural guest worker visa program (H-2A visas) has no limit on the number of such workers. In addition a large share of the more than a million immigrants admitted each year at present are coming to join the workforce and only a small fraction of them are professionals sponsored by an employer. Many of the others, including refugees, take low-skill jobs.