On May 4, 2017, Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, introduced a bill to the Senate floor called the State-Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017, and it is gaining traction quickly among Democrats and Republicans alike. In it, some Republicans are looking for comprehensive immigration reform of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Ron Johnson, as well as others, proposed an overhaul in how immigrants enter the United States for work and how each are paid.
The bill grants significant power to state governments, in which each individual state can opt to participate in the bill or not. Those states who decide to participate are granted 5,000 immigrant hires regardless of skill level, and each immigrant would be confined by health and security checks (which is was increased under the President Trump executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” on January 25, 2017). Those workers, brought through by visas, would be confined to work in the state or compacted states that grant sponsorship. To ensure that they don’t leave the state to pursue work elsewhere, the workers must post a $4,000 bond that will be returned at the end of the stay. Those states, under increased surveillance, that have a 3% noncompliance rate per year would have their visa allotment decreased by 50% (5,000 to 2,500 visas in one year) and an increased in $1,000 in the bond ($4,000 to $5,000 in one year). In contrast, those who comply would have an increase by 10% in visas per year (5,000 to 5,500 in one year). This would not be too difficult, since only 2% of illegal overstays per year are guest workers.
OUR VERDICT: Although this might be a bit hands-off regarding state powers, this plan was actually modeled from the Canadian immigration system for visa workers implemented 20 years ago. It is currently quite successful. Overall, the real question is how Trump and the Federal government plans on maintaining the agreement with each of the accepted states and how the states will be monitored. At the moment, those means are unclear.