123 in Congress want to import more foreign workers to replace Americans, reduce wages and break a Donald Trump promise

Treachery in Congress as 123 Republicans and half as many Democrats in the Senate and House have begged the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) acting secretary, Chad Wolf, to ship more low-wage foreign workers into the United States.

In a January 27 letter to Wolf, 26 Republican Senators and 97 GOP House members demanded DHS allow businesses to import an additional 30,000 foreign workers on the H-2B visa program for blue-collar U.S. jobs this year.

While President Donald Trump was at rallies (campaigning!) and calling for more American jobs and higher wages, many in his GOP lawmaker army were urging the opposite.

Trump was not copied on the letter – a cute ploy. The President is Wolf’s boss, so sending a missive just to the DHS Secretary would normally be out of bounds without copying Trump. It’s similar to sending someone’s minor child an invitation to a murderer’s electrocution without telling the parents.

This subterfuge happens often. Every federal government department ultimately reports to the President, not to Congress, but by sidestepping Trump, Congress can make him immune from criticism of any real job-cutting intentions.

For the past year Trump has been shifting conversation to the benefits of so-called “legal” immigration, which in human terms means adding tens of thousands of imported workers, so American companies can pay less and make more profits.

Even building the wall has been a slow walk.  Most of the estimated 100 miles so far has been in place of old fences. Worst of all, some sections of the new construction look ready to collapse – because of high winds!

The new wall is also vulnerable to portable saws that can easily rip through its steel slats. Stone, concrete, Great Wall of China – has anyone in the White House read “Building Walls for Dummies?”

Every year, U.S. companies are allowed to import low-skilled H-2B foreign workers to take blue-collar, non-agricultural jobs. For some time, the H-2B visa program has been pushed by businesses to bring in cheaper, foreign workers and has contributed to blue-collar Americans having their wages reduced.

“We urge DHS to release the maximum number of additional visas without delay,” the Senators and House members wrote. “These vital American businesses depend on the expeditious release of a sufficient number of additional visas.”

This letter ignored the 11 million Americans, who are currently unemployed, underemployed, working part-time and seeking full time jobs, or have given up looking for employment and aren’t included in the official labor reports.

The H-2B visa program does not include farm workers.

Many businesses use foreign workers to drag down the wages of Americans in landscaping, conservation work, the meatpacking industry, the construction industry, and fishing jobs, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Meanwhile, five Republican and Democrat Senators Richard Blumenthal, Tom Cotton, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley, and Dick Durbin have asked DHS not to bring any more foreign workers to the U.S. with the H-2B visa program:

While we understand the needs of employers who legitimately rely on seasonal H-2B workers if American workers cannot meet the demand, we continue to have concerns about the harmful impact that the program has on both American workers and foreign guest workers.

Studies have shown that the H-2B visa program leaves immigrant workers vulnerable to wage theft, abuse, and trafficking.

The five Senators said imported workers “are often at the mercy of their employers and H-2B workers may also be too scared to speak out against poor working conditions.”

They may also have difficulties accessing the justice system to protect themselves from employer retaliation if they do speak out. These realities of the H-2B program, as it operates today, incentivize unscrupulous employers to hire H-2B workers instead of American workers and create poor working conditions for immigrant workers and American workers alike.

We do not believe that an increase in the number of H-2B visas is in the interests of either American workers or H-2B visa holders.

While Cotton and Grassley are longtime supporters of the American worker, it was surprising to see agreement on H-2B reduction by Dianne Feinstein (Trilateral Commission), Richard Blumenthal and  Richard Durbin, who usually vote to support increased visa quotas..

Columnist John Binder reported last month that “in the construction industry, wage suppression is significant, with H-2B foreign workers being offered more than 20 percent less than their American counterparts.”

In the fishing industry, foreign workers were offered more than 30 percent less for their jobs than Americans in the field. In the meatpacking industry, foreign workers got 23 percent less pay than Americans.

Late last year, the Labor Department banned a South Dakota construction company from using the H-2B visa program after they discovered the employer was importing foreign workers in order to cut labor costs, then forcing those foreign workers to pay for their own housing, visa fees, and transportation costs — all of which are supposed to be covered by H-2B visa employers.

The 26 GOP Senators who signed the January anti-worker letter to the DHS Secretary are the usual establishment, pro-business supplicants:

  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
  • Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
  • Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • Sen. James Risch (R-ID)
  • Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
  • Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
  • Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)
  • Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)

Plus, 97 Republican House members who signed the letter:

  • Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA)
  • Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND)
  • Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH)
  • Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
  • Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI)
  • Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC)
  • Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL)
  • Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN)
  • Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN)
  • Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA)
  • Rep. John Carter (R-TX)
  • Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH)
  • Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
  • Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA)
  • Rep. John Curtis (R-UT)
  • Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH)
  • Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
  • Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
  • Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN)
  • Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS)
  • Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  • Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI)
  • Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
  • Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)
  • Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)
  • Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA)
  • Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA)
  • Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)
  • Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS)
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
  • Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA)
  • Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA)
  • Rep. French Hill (R-AR)
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI)
  • Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH)
  • Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD)
  • Rep. David Joyce (R-OH)
  • Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA)
  • Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS)
  • Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
  • Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)
  • Rep. Billy Long (R-MO)
  • Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA)
  • Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
  • Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
  • Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
  • Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)
  • Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)
  • Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX)
  • Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
  • Rep. David McKinley (R-WV)
  • Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV)
  • Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI)
  • Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI)
  • Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
  • Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC)
  • Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA)
  • Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX)
  • Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS)
  • Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA)
  • Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC)
  • Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC)
  • Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL)
  • Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)
  • Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)
  • Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)
  • Rep. Darren Soto (R-FL)
  • Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL)
  • Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN)
  • Rep. Elise Stefancik (R-NY)
  • Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT)
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
  • Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX)
  • Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
  • Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO)
  • Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH)
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
  • Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ)
  • Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO)
  • Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)
  • Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AZ)
  • Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX)
  • Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
  • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA)
  • Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR)
  • Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA)
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)
  • Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY)