How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Work permits and auctions: A look at two new proposals for granting work visas to immigrants

Photo by unsure shot/Flickr (Creative Commons)

There are a couple of new proposals for granting work visas to foreign workers, one of them legislative, the other a private proposal put together by an economist. They couldn't be more different, but the one thing they have in common is that they are drawing their share of controversy, as might be expected in this economy. Here are some details on both.

1) The private proposal: It's a novel one. Commissioned by a think tank to come up with an immigration reform plan, UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri has proposed a system that would have employers competing in a quarterly electronic auction for work permits. In essence, the permits to hire foreign workers would go to those most willing to pay, with bids starting at $7,000 for high-skilled workers, less for lower-skilled seasonal workers. But in case it sounds like indentured servitude, visa holders would be allowed to change jobs, according to the plan.