Op-ed pick: The Senate’s guest worker program will provide a flexible workforce

“The best antidote to illegal immigration is a legal immigration system that works,” says Tamar Jacoby in the Wall Street Journal.

Debate began in the U.S. Senate this week on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Jacoby argues that the guest-worker program outlined in the bill would be an important change at a time when the United States is facing a wave of baby boomer retirements. We need foreign workers, she says, and the Senate bill is a smart way forward:

The work visas in the Senate bill bear little resemblance to traditional guest-worker programs, which generally tie the worker to one employer, opening the door to exploitation and an inefficient labor market. Instead, under the Senate proposal, an immigrant here on a work visa can quit any time and go to work for any other U.S. employer that has been approved to participate in the program. Business owners get access to a more flexible labor force, including the possibility of hiring in real time without going back to the government for approval.

The size of the guest-worker program is designed to adjust automatically in response to changing U.S. labor needs, growing in good years when the economy needs more foreign workers and shrinking when more Americans are out of work.

Jacoby joins us on Monday to discuss her column. Read all of “Guest Workers Are the Best Border Security” here.