A: The Senate bill creates a new W-visa program that will allow employers greater flexibility to hire lower-skilled workers in sectors like agriculture, construction, food preparation and energy. The W-visa also will allow the employees to travel back and forth to their home countries, instead of feeling trapped within the U.S. borders just so they can work here.
Q: Will an influx in immigrant workers drive down wages?
A: Actually, an undocumented workforce that is vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking is more likely to drive down wages and increase crime, which is a cost to everyone. Undocumented workers often are paid less, resulting in lower wages and reduced spending power. The overall economic factors favor a diverse workforce bolstered by workers who are legally working in the U.S. and are paid fair wages.
Q: What are the key legislative steps in getting comprehensive reform passed?
A: When (if) the reform bill passes, the U.S. House of Representatives has one of two choices: take the same bill and amend it so that it passes or derail it completely. If the House takes the same bill and passes it, then both the Senate and House can go into conference to work out the details. Hopefully, Oklahoma members to the Senate and House will do what is right for Oklahoma businesses and hash out the details.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER