Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

MPI Issue Brief on Low-Wage Visas

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"The current US legal immigration system includes few visas for low-skilled* workers — 5,000 visas for lawful permanent residence out of an estimated 140,000 employment-based green cards annually — and employers have relied heavily on an unauthorized workforce in many low-skilled occupations.

Restrictions on the legal channels to recruit low-skilled foreign workers in both temporary and permanent positions, coupled with businesses’ continued ability to employ unauthorized workers undetected, are often held responsible for the enormous growth in the unauthorized population during the 1990s and 2000s until the recent economic crisis. 

The issue of “future flow” of legal workers at the low-skilled level — its size, wage and labor protections, and conditions for temporary or permanent residency — has been a major point of debate as bipartisan Senate and House groups finalize