Open-borders activists often discuss the concept of "unused visas" when seeking to roll back America's nearly 100-year-old tradition of numerically controlled immigration.
And they are at it again, this time using the virus as an excuse to bring in 40,000 more medical workers and their dependents. Two Republican and two Democratic senators are pushing the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act.
The aliens admitted under the proposed legislation would get full immigrant status immediately even though they are not expected to apply until later this year; they would be admitted without regard to the nation-of-origin ceilings and would arrive ahead of an equal number of aliens who are patiently waiting for such visas for years, if not decades.
We may have a temporary need for a few more medical workers for the remaining months of this crisis, but if we do, why bring in people on a permanent basis to fill a temporary need?
There are plenty of opportunities within the existing H-1B programs, notably for medical personnel to work in university-connected hospitals, and more broadly in J-1 exchange visitor programs, for such temporary admissions.
But the forces behind this legislation seem to want to drive down medical personnel salaries as effectively as roughly similar programs (such as H-1B) have adversely impacted those of IT workers.
As to the "unused visas", many years ago there were fewer applicants than slots in some of the employment-based programs, appropriately reflecting the labor markets of the time. They were not apparently needed then, and they (the visas) died. Libertarians and others are now seeking to recall, and revive, these ghost visas.