"The proposed visa program is much too small to meet U.S. labor needs -- now or in years ahead," Jacoby said in a statement, calling it "skewed by union demands."
Under the agreement, employers will be able to hire foreign workers through a quota system that increases or shrinks depending on economic conditions. They'll be able to hire more workers beyond the cap if they still claim there's a shortage, but only if they pay a premium in fees and wages, a measure designed to keep businesses from depressing American worker incomes with cheaper foreign labor.
But Jacoby thinks that the annual quota is too low to handle normal immigration levels while the premium is too high for businesses to go beyond it. The resulting gap will create more incentives for businesses to turn to undocumented workers to fill low-wage positions.
"In the early 2000s, when the economy was booming, more than 350,000 unauthorized immigrants entered the U.S. every year to work," Jacoby said in a statement. "Even in 2011, with the economy still sluggish and uncertain, the number was 150,000. But the new program will start by admitting only 20,000 workers a year and will never, no matter how robust the economy, issue more than 200,000 visas annually.That won't be nearly enough to replace illegal immigration."
Nonetheless, Jacoby called the deal a "thoughtful, innovative package" whose framework marked a significant improvement over the current system.
"The Gang of Eight blueprint is a solid beginning, but there is more work to be done," she wrote.