U.S.-Mexico Council Recommends Short-term Work Visas

May 7, 2004 - 09:22

About 16,000 agricultural workers are admitted into the country each year under the H-2A program, and about 87,000 seasonal workers are given H-2B visas. However, The U.S.-Mexico Binational Council has indicated that the H-2A and H-2B temporary worker programs have "serious shortcomings."

The Council reported that the government is not capable of managing a major guest-worker program at this time and attempting to do so would be a "recipe for failure." It has advised the government to issue short-term work visas to a limited number of Mexican immigrants before allowing employers in the United States to hire tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers.

According to a recent article in USA Today, President Bush and several lawmakers want Congress to approve a guest-worker program as a way to reduce the country's high number of undocumented immigrants. According to the latest federal government estimates, 8-10 million immigrants live here legally, two-thirds come from Mexico alone. However, lawmakers are too divided on the issue to pass guest-worker legislation before Congress adjourns at the end of the year.

According to USA Today, Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., a council member and co-sponsor of a proposed guest-worker bill, is discouraged by the lack of action in Congress but predicts that such legislation may get more attention after this year's presidential campaign. "What we've been doing over the last several years isn't working," he said. "It's de facto amnesty."

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