Salt Lake Chamber's Guest Worker Proposal
With all eyes focused on the economy you may have forgotten about immigration. Remember immigration? It was one of the top policy issues on every American's radar just last year. Well if you have forgotten don't worry, you haven't missed much.
There is still no leadership from Washington on this issue that most believe falls squarely in the federales' domain. In response to vocal anti-immigration voters, state legislators are still proposing bills (a la 2007's Oklahoma HB 1804, currently under injunction in federal court) that crack down on immigrants and put the onus on business to verify legal status.
Utah is one state with an Oklahoma-esque immigration bill pending enforcement. Utah SB 81 passed during the 2008 legislative session and was signed by Governor Huntsman. It is set to go into effect on July 1, 2009. Amid ongoing discussion about the impact of SB 81, the Salt Lake Chamber has proposed a guest worker program.
The chamber's proposed program would create a two-year, renewable guest worker authorization for illegal immigrants currently working in the state of Utah."The idea behind the guest worker program is, in most if not all respects, to take the (financial) burden from the public and put it in the private sector," says Wesley Smith, the chamber's Public Policy Director and Executive Director of the Immigration Policy Coalition.
Provisions of the Salt Lake Chamber's Guest Worker Proposal are:
Register as Worker
Applicants must register all relevant contact data including name, address, telephone number, etc. to the state. Data must be updated if any changes are made. Failure to update is grounds for revocation of worker status.
Each applicant is fingerprinted and their name run through Interagency Border Inspection System. A criminal history that includes any felony or serious offense results in ineligibility. Further review, if necessary, conducted by FBI.
Medical Exam/Health Check
Each applicant required to undergo same examination currently required for federal residence status. Utah will apply same health-related ground for inadmissibility.
Employer can only sponsor an applicant if the position to be filled has been subject to appropriate notice and no eligible domestic workers have been identified for the position. Applicants who are not Utah residents must apply from their country of origin. Applicant must be sponsored within 90 days of registering as a worker.
Applicant must provide a minimum security bond with the intent of covering any cost of future enforcement if applicant does not honor terms of guest worker program.
FICA and Medicare Equivalent Withholding
State of Utah will require employers to withhold an amount equivalent to typical FICA and Medicare withholdings (currently, about 15 percent.) Money will pay for health care and administrative costs of program.
10% Additional Withholding
This withholding will be taken out by the state and held in trust until the successful completion of the applicants guest worker status. Applicant is eligible for principle, while interest goes toward administrative costs.
All guest workers must be enrolled in a health insurance program. Employers may facilitate this requirement by providing employee insurance
Proof of valid auto insurance will be submitted to Department of Workforce Services. Expired insurance grounds for revocation of guest worker status. Waiver provided for non-drivers.
For more information click HERE to visit the Salt Lake Chamber's webpage.