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Immigration reform 101: Is a sensible guest-worker program possible?

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While both labor and management aim to claim the mantle of having such “market-driven” solutions to these inequities, how the two sides would get to such a system diverge sharply.

How business sees it

Commercial interests like Mr. McBurney's hotel industry, alongside the high-tech and agriculture industries, say that they should have largely unlimited access to certain categories of special workers: low-skilled seasonal employees, high-tech computer scientists, or agricultural workers, respectively.

Let corporations set the number of foreign workers they need, these advocates argue.

The Immigration Innovation Act, a bipartisan measure led by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah and Amy Klobuchar (D) of Minnesota, shows how a system like this might work. The so-called "I-Squared Act" would, in part, allow visas for highly skilled workers (known as H1-Bs) to rise from the current 65,000 level to as many as 300,000 under one condition – corporate demand for such visas.

Alternatively, the government could hold a certain number of visas constant every year in each profession and allow companies to bid for visas beyond the regular allotment, suggests Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

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