It would create a new H-5A visa that would allow an alien to live and work in the United States for three years. This visa would be renewable once. After that, the employer can sponsor the guest worker for permanent residency status, or the guest worker can apply for that status himself. But to get the visa in the first place, the alien must be willing to take a job offered at a pay rate that the American employer could not get an American worker to accept. Once in the country, in this low-paying job, the worker can switch to another job, but he must leave the country if he is unemployed for more than 60 days.
Initially, 400,000 new guest workers would be allowed into the country each year on this basis. But, according to Kennedy's summary, if the demand for these must-be-paid-less-than-American workers is greater than 400,000 per year, the number can be "adjusted up."
Until now, the American ideal of an immigrant has been someone who comes here with the ambition to work harder, earn more, save more, perhaps start a business and succeed in the free-enterprise system. But this entrepreneurial spirit will not be encouraged among the sub-class of guest workers Kennedy would create. The bill, says Kennedy's summary, "prohibits the hiring of temporary workers as independent contractors."
Writing in National Review in 1998, Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies, aptly likened earlier guest-worker plans of this type to "indentured servitude."
But the worst part of Kennedy's plan is that it is co-sponsored by Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who hope to win the support of President Bush for this plan. "We've used the president's framework and principles to craft this package," said McCain. "And I applaud President Bush for his leadership on this issue."
No matter who tries to push this package through Congress, conservatives should return it to sender.