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Talking Points For Leaders

The Red Card Solution Summary

Border Security and Temporary Worker Program–
a simple, private-sector, market-based initiative

  • Border security requires a combination of technology, border guards, AND a temporary work program to solve the labor problem. Border control would be cheaper and easier, because most of the people now sneaking in illegally would be coming through the gate into a regulated legal system.
  • A solution does NOT require amnesty, and it does NOT require citizenship. This program is for temporary guest workers, not for permanent immigrants – not for new citizens.
  • There are two legal ways for workers to enter the U.S. – as temporary guest workers, or as immigrants applying for citizenship. These two paths must be kept separate because the requirements are different.
  • Immigration and citizenship require assimilation, an understanding of America’s founding principles, and of the responsibilities of citizenship – temporary guest work does not.
  • Most countries allow guest workers and issue work permits only after workers are linked to specific jobs. But in the U.S. such visas are applied for by employers, not employees. There is no database potential workers can access to see what jobs are available, nor for employers to see the qualifications of those seeking work – nor for American workers to apply before foreign workers. A central temporary work database would solve all those issues.
  • The “Red Card Solution” proposes a very simple approach. Private employment firms would post available jobs on a national database, which workers and employers alike could access, run background checks, link specific workers to specific jobs, issue smart-cards and track workers, insuring compliance with all U.S. laws and streamlining the process so it works for both workers and employers.
  • Jobs would be available first to American citizens for a defined time period before eligible foreign workers could apply.
  • Private-sector management of the temporary worker program would be funded entirely by user fees – not tax dollars – using smart-card technology to ensure all workers meet the two essential requirements. They must pass criminal background checks, and they must have self-supporting jobs (no access to public benefits). 
  • This could also provide powerful incentives for illegals already in the U.S. to apply for legal admission under the temporary work program, if they also met the same requirements for such work permits.
  • Use of this secure technology would enhance national security because the government would know at all times who all the temporary workers are, where they are, where they work, when their jobs expire, and other relevant details.
  • When a temporary job expires, or if the worker leaves that job, the card would be instantly cancelled, as easily as a stolen credit card. Work permits can be portable, but only after a new background check, re-registering with the firm that issued the card, and updating the national database.
  • The number of work permits issued would be regulated by the market, a much more certain limit than artificial government quotas on every industry, because no company hires workers they don’t need.
  • We know such private sector solutions will work, because they already work. Private banks and credit companies routinely issue millions of smart cards annually, and accurately track customer activities.
  • Private companies routinely run background checks through government databases. Private employment agencies link workers and employers every day. This approach is not new – applying its common sense to the illegal immigration issue would be new. 
  • Workers would have the strongest incentives to use the legal process because it would be quick and efficient, enabling them to come out of the shadows, live and work legally, and enjoy the benefits and protections of the law – instead of hiding from the law.
  • Best of all, Americans would know who these workers are and know that they have been fully vetted.