Gingrich: Let AmEx run the visa program

The Republican candidate who is leading the polls in Iowa, Newt Gingrich, is also for eliminating the H-1B cap, and says the visa cap policy is “wrong and economically misguided.”

That view puts Gingrich in the mainstream of the Republican field.

But Gingrich goes further and calls for some radical reforms of employment-sponsored visa programs, including turning over the monitoring, if not their management, to the private sector.

The Gingrich plan emerges in his treatment of unskilled workers, who typically use H-2B visas.

Similar to the H-1B program, Gingrich doesn’t want any caps on the H-2B visas.

But Gingrich has no confidence that the government can run a well-regulated guest worker program “without massive fraud and counterfeiting,” and believes the private sector can do a much better job.

“American Express’s rate of fraud is less than one tenth of one percent,” says Gingrich, in his platform.

Gingrich is proposing building a universal system of biometric visa documents, “and invite a private-sector firm with a proven track record to monitor the guest worker program.”

Although Gingrich is pitching private sector involvement in the context of the unskilled worker visas, there’s no reason why he would not, as president, get the private sector involved in running the H-1B program as well.

If fraud is the reason for outsourcing any visa program to the private sector, then Gingrich has plenty to work with when it comes to the H-1B program. His best source will be Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the H-1B program’s most outspoken critic.

There are many Republicans and Democrats who would like to make employment-based visas as easy to get as credit cards. But Gingrich might be the only one suggesting that credit card companies could do a better job than the government in running the program.  

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