Guest worker program for U.S.?

The concept of a long-term guest worker visa is rarely discussed in the U.S. These visas would create a middle ground between temporary work visas and citizenship or permanent residency. I think the concept is very hard for Americans to consider because we are at least overtly opposed to the idea of some kind of second class citizenship or permanent residency.

Here is an excerpt from a report based on round table discussions held in Wisconsin and Texas:

The participants also made suggestions for introducing new temporary programs or expanding existing ones for migrant workers. They proposed ideas that could expand the scope of the existing H-2A temporary agricultural visa and H-2B temporary non-agricultural visa programs.
A man from Wisconsin said more temporary programs for lower skilled occupations could provide incentives for undocumented immigrants to enter the country legally:

“One thing that ought to be done—there should be some middle ground between permanent resident status and being undocumented. I think there has to be a way for people to come here to work and be legal without the expectations that they’re going to become citizens or become permanent residents. I think a lot of people come here to work and send money back. I would like to see low skilled workers have some limited visa so they can work or earn a living and be documented to the extent monitored … that would give them a way to be here legally, pay their taxes, social services, and healthcare. I see great benefit in that.”

Another participant from Texas floated a proposal that mirrored temporaryto-permanent systems in European countries, such as Germany where non-citizens can access permanent status after living in these countries for a specific number of years. He said, “Whoever wants to come legally, give them a period of one year to prove to the government that they can establish themselves in the U.S., stay with clear criminal histories, and show they are productive and engaged in the community.”

From Turning Challenges Into Opportunities: Perspectives on Immigration in Texas and Wisconsin during the 2020 Election Year

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