Congress Shouldn’t Use Spending Bill to Expand Guest Worker Program

Obama_Health_Care_Speech_to_Joint_Session_of_CongressInstead of using its power of the purse to rein in President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty programs, or closing the TVPRA loophole which would subject all unaccompanied alien minors to the same removal process, or holding sanctuary city jurisdictions accountable, some lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol would rather focus their energy on expanding the number of visas available for low-skilled foreign workers in this year’s spending bills. (Politico, May 3, 2016) These Members of Congress are lobbying top appropriators to include language to renew controversial provisions from last year’s omnibus spending measure that tripled the number of H-B2 low-skilled worker visas, stating that a “failure to enact this exemption will hurt seasonal businesses across the country.” (See FAIR Legislative Update, Dec. 22, 2015, See Letter, April 26, 2016)

Last year’s omnibus amended the H-2B low-skilled guest worker program to get around the 66,000 annual cap by exempting “returning workers” who had used the visa between 2013 and 2015 from counting toward the limits.  (H.R. 2029, p. 701; see INA §§ 214(g)(1)(B); 214(g)(9)(A)) This change increased the number of low-skilled foreign workers to about 250,000. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Dec. 22, 2015)

Its quiet inclusion into the omnibus bill at the last moment without any debate at the committee level prompted an uproar among both liberal and conservative Members of Congress. True immigration reformer Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said, “It’s frustrating that any lawmakers would push this because the program does not need to be expanded. If anything, it needs to be constricted.” (Politico, May 3, 2016) According to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), increasing the number of H-2B visas would depress wages for American workers and lower labor standards.  This provision, it was argued, should not be “obscured in the appropriations process.”(See Letter, Dec. 3, 2015)

About Author


Shari Rendall brings to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) over 15 years of experience in government relations and grassroots advocacy. In her former position, Shari led the legislation department in coordinating lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill and briefing congressional and administration staff on a wide range of issues. She has also been responsible for grassroots communications and helping state associations devise their legislative strategies. She began her time in D.C. working on Capitol Hill in the office of former Sen. Bob Smith (R-New Hampshire) as a Legislative Aide.


  1. avatar

    How about if Republicans use the spending bill to make e-verify mandatory. This would be a killer issue for Republicans. The guest worker approach to immigration is not supported by the base of the Republican party.

  2. avatar

    The Recent Establishment Polls on the General Election

    Are total hogwash to be ignored. A HUGE factor not considered: Hillary testimony during email investigation makes her look crooked. That’s a CRUSHING BLOW.

    Add in Hillary’s support for amnesty and the resulting deficit and job scarcity….you get the gist.

      • avatar

        Did you see the Quinnipac {sp} polls today? Tied in Penn and FL and Trump ahead in Ohio.

      • avatar

        In Milwaukee…a SANCTUARY city, LOW INCOME voters are the biggest group of voters. One who I watched grow up (known her since she was 6 YO) on welfare, and has now spent her adult life (now 32 following in her parents footsteps) posted on FB in 2012 that they had to keep Obama in office because welfare is all she has ever known. Now THAT is failure for Democrats, which is the biggest reason I left the Democratic party that year after 34 years. ALL Wisconsin Democratic reps push constantly that they have to make sure welfare, food stamps, housing will STAY available to the. IGNORANCE at its worst. I worked my whole life (12-18 hr days) and didn’t have time to pay attention to whats going on in Washington. Well, since 2008, I retired young and have had MUCH time to follow ALL parties. I no longer belong to any party. They are all corrupt and should all be in prison. Well, Jeff Sessions is pretty good with the Constitutional laws, but still, even he throws in a vote once in awhile that shouldn’t have been given. Milwaukee has over a million people alone, and the Democratic mayor refuses to do a census since it became a sanctuary city during the Obama administration.