‘With record numbers of Americans filing for unemployment, our focus should be getting Americans back to work…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that the country would not grant any more H-2B guest workers visas due to booming unemployment claims, Law360 reported.
The hold on new visas for temporary seasonal workers is indefinite. More than 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits.
To clear up various misreporting – DHS’s rule on the H-2B cap is on hold pending review due to present economic circumstances. No additional H-2B visas will be released until further notice. Per the statute, H-2B allocations are set in consultation with @USDOL.
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) April 2, 2020
Congress told DHS to grant 66,000 visas this year, and then gave the department authority to increase that number by up to 64,000. Despite Trump’s campaign promise to prioritize American workers ahead of immigrant workers, DHS had planned to grant 35,000 visas for laborers.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., praised the administration’s decision.
“With record numbers of Americans filing for unemployment, our focus should be getting Americans back to work, not bringing in additional foreign labor,” he said. “The Department of Homeland Security should continue the hold on additional H-2B visas until we know that Americans have the jobs they need.”
Immigrants who enter the country on H-2B visas oftentimes work in landscaping, hotels and restaurants, the sectors hit hardest by the state-enforced economic shutdown.
Amid the economic crisis, DHS said it is “looking at additional measures to protect American workers now and when normal economic activity is able to resume in the future.”
An immigration restrictionist said the order did not do enough to protect American workers.
“This is a step in the right direction and should be applauded,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “However, 10 million have lost their jobs in the past few weeks and it will get worse.”
Hauman’s group advocates for lower levels of immigration overall. “American workers need more—a complete moratorium on guest worker admissions,” he said. “President Trump has the authority and should use it.”
But pro-immigration activists and open-border advocates disagreed, claiming those out of work due to the pandemic were still likely to scoff at the low-wage and labor-intensive tasks that immigrants perform.
Jay Ruby of Greenberg Traurig LLP said the expected recession does not mean that the number of American workers willing to work landscaping and hospitality services will increase.
“A lot of the H-2B occupations are ones that U.S. workers forego even in economic downturns,” he said.