In prior postings in this series we argued that substantial numbers of foreign farmworkers (H-2A) and unskilled, non-ag workers (H-2B) be hired from the Northern Triangle, rather from other places in the world, and that they be selected among those most likely to return to their home countries.
We now turn to the methods and timing of payments to those workers, something that can be adjusted, probably, without the need for new legislation. The objective of the proposals that follow is to strongly encourage these seasonal workers to return home after the work is done, and to follow that pattern for years into the future. This will tend to ease the pressures on such workers who might otherwise come to the U.S. border with their families, as so many do now.
Current government regulations seek to make sure that foreign workers are paid an appropriate wage; these probably should be strengthened to discourage use of this program, but that is not our point today. We want to make sure that the payment structure encourages the H workers to return home at the end of their period of employment, and to come back to the United States only under the H program rules in the following season.
To that end we propose a three-part payment program:
- Mandatory savings of 10 percent of all earnings, to be paid after the worker has returned to the homeland; the payment is to be made in checks that are mailed to the worker's homeland address, and that may only be honored if the worker deposits them in person in the homeland within 30 days of the date of the check.
- In a different form of the familiar "premium processing" used in the H-1B program to speed decisions for the benefit of employers and workers, we suggest that the scheme be turned into a benefit plan for Americans, generally, in that the program will discourage illegal immigration.
Employers wanting quick decisions on their H applications will be asked to pay the fees (no more than one a month) for the transmission of moneys from their workers to the workers' families and, in addition, if the worker is still back in the homeland 60 days after the work is finished to send that worker a check for 5 percent of the worker's earnings, a check that will be handled as noted above. Employers not agreeing will get their H decisions a bit later.
- If the worker is still in the homeland 90 days after the end of the U.S. work, that worker will get a third check, this time from our government, for 5 percent of his year's U.S. earnings. This will be funded either from USCIS' fee income or, much better, from a proposed 2 percent fee on the $50 billion or so that flows out of the country each year in remittances, a subject covered in a prior blog.
The payment program is designed to encourage compliance with the immigration law, and is to be funded in a balanced way, by the worker, by the employer, and by other migrants. The U.S. taxpayers will pay nothing for these arrangements.
To what extent will those checks have been cashed at the end of 30, 60, and 90 days, indicating compliance? The government would be required to report these data for an evaluation of the program. If substantial compliance is not secured in this way, the program would be dropped or modified in the years to come.