Following a video call between US President, Joe Biden, and Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a US work visa proposed for Mexico is reportedly ‘under consideration’. Lopez Obrador said: “The question of work visas was raised… and it will be analyzed.”
The Mexican leader said that his government had proposed the creation of a new version of the ‘Bracero’ program that was introduced during World War II, which would allow Mexicans to work legally in the United States.
According to Lopez Obrador, the United States will need hundreds of thousands of workers each year. During a daily news conference, he said: “Regardless of automation and robotics, the US will require a bigger workforce and we have a young, very creative workforce.”
No official mention of visa program
However, while there was no official mention of a US visa program for Mexicans following the virtual summit between Biden and Lopez Obrador, the two Presidents did say that they had ‘agreed to collaborate on a joint effort to tackle the root cause of regional migration, to improve migration management and develop legal pathways for migration.’
Biden’s US immigration reforms have been welcomed by Mexico, while the US President’s cancellation on construction of Trump’s controversial border wall has also been met with relief.
Joe Biden’s reforms have enabled asylum seekers, who had been forced to remain in Mexico while their US asylum claims were processed, to step onto American soil while awaiting the outcome of their application.
US work visa processing delays
The news of Mexico’s proposal of a US work visa for its citizens comes amid huge delays in visa processing. Delays in the extension of visas and US work permits in particular has resulted in many H1B, H4 and L2 visa holders losing their jobs.
The visa delays have been described as a human rights issue. Christopher J. L. Cunningham, a professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said: “Insurmountable visa processing delays are a human rights issue that absolutely can and should be addressed.”
Meanwhile, researcher at the University of Limerick in Ireland, Pooja Vijaykumar, said: “The plight of employment-based visa holders has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
She told The American Bazaar: “H1B holders who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 are moving back to their home country, and more importantly, physicians on H1B visas as frontline workers are enduring a lot of stress given that their families are at risk of being deported if he/she dies of COVID-19.”
“Overall, we could have retained these high skilled immigrants and their families if the backlog situation were resolved by previous Presidential administrations,” Vijaykumar added.
Vijaykumar did praise some aspects of Biden’s Immigration Bill, including the President’s plans to increase employment-based visas from 140,000 to 170,000 and increasing some visa caps. However, she said that the Bill makes no mention of how to tackle US visa processing delays.
She said: “There is clearly much more work to be done before we understand and can work to provide legal immigration that’s beneficial for all.”
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