Business groups across the state of Kansas are currently proposing a new program within the state that would assist some illegal immigrants to hold down jobs in industries with labor shortages, regardless of what immigration forms they hold.
The proposition, which is largely the first of its kind in the country, is likely to receive mixed criticism from the federal government, according to The Associated Press. Supporters of the bill believe it creates an ingenious solution to current labor shortages in the state, especially in the agriculture industry. However, no hard data has been collected on how many of Kansas’s jobs would go unfilled without immigrant workers, and without this statistical knowledge, it will likely be difficult for supporters to firmly prove their case.
According to the AP, the business coalition currently heading the proposal worked out the details of their idea just days after Dale Rodman, Kansas’s agriculture secretary, talked about getting a waiver from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to hire more illegal immigrants in the state’s agriculturally centered businesses.
The closest to the Kansas proposition would be Utah’s guest-worker program, set to begin in 2013. Open to workers in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, the pilot program will enable Utah employers to hire Mexican citizens, who will be given U.S. visas to participate in the program. The program will not lead to citizenship, however.
While many undocumented residents are happy to have the promise of a livelihood offered by the bill, several government officials from Kansas and other states have been angered by the measure.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who assisted in drafting the stringent immigration laws currently in Alabama and Arizona, is against the measure, saying it gives amnesty to those who have come here illegally.