The President’s promise of “Hire American” in order to add more jobs and raise wages for American citizens was just trumped by pressure from rich business owners.
Under orders from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has okayed 30,000 additional waivers for H-2B Visas in 2020 – arguing that there are no citizens here who want the jobs offered.
This decision will allow companies to import 96,000 H-2B laborers in 2019, up from the 66,000 allowed by the law.
But that’s just the tip of the spear aimed at the American workforce.
The government also awarded visas for 242,800 H2-A farm laborers last year, up from 200,000 visas in 2017 and 165,700 visas in 2016. Even more are expected in 2019.
These H2-A totals don’t include visas for white collar jobs.
Last year there were an estimated 1.5 million white-collar visa workers in the country, including some 1,000,000 with H-1Bs visas, plus roughly 400,000 OPT and CPT white-collar workers, 100,000 H4 EAD workers, an additional 100,000 workers with TN visas, at least 200,000 people with L-1 visas, plus additional populations with 0-1, E-3, J-1, or B-1 visas.
If all those letters, numbers and categories seem confusing, join the club, but one thing is clear – companies are using the visa system to favor foreign workers over Americans.
It’s not just that a Mexican citizen (for example) is grateful to get low pay here, when the minimum hourly wage is 59 cents in their country. Visa holders also face losing their jobs at the whim of employers, and aren’t in a position to complain about even dangerous or cruel working conditions.
These totals of foreign workers do not include as many as 20 million foreigners here without authorization. The government estimated that some 40% of the total are foreigners, who overstayed their three-year visa limit.
By increasing these and other visa totals, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen bowed to powerful Republicans and Democrats in Congress, who are pressured by businesses for cheap labor.
It’s easy to blame her for the increase, but something odd has happened over the years with visa quotas, and Nielsen now wants to put the blame where it belongs;
DHS spokeswoman Andrea Palermo said the department has asked Congress to decide how many workers should be imported, rather than passing the buck each year to Nielsen’s department.
Congress – not DHS – should be responsible for determining whether the annual numerical limitations for H-2B workers set by Congress need to be modified, and by how much, and for setting parameters to ensure that enough workers are available to meet employers’ temporary needs throughout the year, Palermo said.
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, explained his group’s opposition to the most recent increase in visas:
While Congress shoulders much of the blame for inexplicably authorizing an H-2B visa increase in the first place, the decision to actually go through with one was squarely in the hands of the Trump administration.
Given the opportunity to stand with the American worker, President Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen capitulated to the self-serving demands of business lobbyists and authorized 30,000 additional visas. While the economy is certainly roaring, it does not need a vast infusion of guest workers.
This decision to allow tens of thousands more foreign workers to flood the labor market this year will not only suppress blue-collar wage growth, but also take away opportunities from Americans trying to get back into the labor force.
Companies are allotted visa workers on the basis of lobbying, begging, or other financial or political methods. Firms who get this cheap labor are at an advantage in competing against companies that pay Americans fair wages and provide decent working conditions.