Congress Passes the Buck for Cheap Worker Visas

U.S. employers are clamoring for yet more temporary workers, and a compliant Congress is cynically tasking the Trump administration with the final decision about whether to admit them.

The latest federal appropriations bill, which funds the government through the end of the fiscal year, includes a designed loophole that authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to issue as many as double the H-2B visas, which is technically capped at 66,000 a year. The move effectively shifts responsibility for admitting more foreign workers from Congress to the administration.

The H-2B program — designed to fill temporary, semi-skilled non-agricultural jobs in such sectors as tourism, hospitality, and landscaping – has drawn criticism from President Trump for undercutting working-class Americans.

From 2013 to 2016, annual H-2B visas rose from 58,000 to 85,000, thanks to loosened eligibility requirements set by Congress. Midway through this fiscal year, employers sought approval for 121,000 H-2B workers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., quietly applied more grease with an appropriations provision exempting former H-2B workers from any caps at all. This followed defunding of Department of Labor audits into temporary foreign-worker recruitment records, making it even easier for H-2B employers to bypass U.S. workers.

Cranking up the pressure this week, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., threatened to freeze Trump’s nomination for director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services until additional H-2Bs are granted.

Congress isn’t the only bad actor in the H-2B saga. Usurping Congressional authority, bureaucrats at the old Immigration and Naturalization Service (now USCIS) repeatedly lowered the bar for eligibility while “a series of backdoor agency decisions wiped out labor protections for many U.S. workers,” wrote Michelle Malkin and John Miano in “Sold Out,” their book critiquing abuses in America’s guest-worker system.

Increases in H-2B allotments come amid a loss of lower-skilled employment opportunities for U.S. workers and eroding wages.

Take those landscaping jobs, for example. The average certified H-2B wage for a landscaper in Colorado was $10.34 per hour – 25 percent below the average wage for non-H-2B landscapers.

Meantime, the ranks of foreign labor are growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that non-American workers made up 16.9 percent of this country’s labor force in 2016, up from 13.3 percent in 2000.

The finagling over H-2B caps – and the liberal use of foreign-worker visas generally – has the nation’s largest union and some progressive thinkers reconsidering their embrace of cheap imported labor. The AFL-CIO issued a fact sheet titled, “Why the H-2B Program is Bad for Working People.”

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in May he would consider raising the H-2B cap. DHS affirmed last month that the cap will be raised, though no decision has been made on how many visas would be approved.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    So now we see two motives (at least) with what can be called either labor arbitrage (visas, worker imports) or now in our weaponized world, POPULATION BOMBING. I encourage people to see labor arbitrage as the latter. They are targeting stable, mostly white or middle-class communities with population bombing, and also refusing to provide opportunities to train Americans. This cannot last or stand. It’s like something eating itself. Somehow these idiots think they can eat themselves. Their policies are cannibalist through and through, and though I am sure I am probably the only woman reading this, it presents a HUGE threat to all Western women, not merely in the potential for rape and assaults (see the recent case in New Hampshire were domestic violence cases against immigrants have been thrown out because of ‘cultural incompetence’ including one in which a 25-yr old pregnant woman had her hair pulled out by an African male; the city solicitor’s office was involved and he has now lost his job, thankfully); but also the potential that we are still kept out of profitable, middle-class professions that women could fill. And yes, we can do science and math, thanks, as our school performances show and GIVEN THE CHANCE.

  2. avatar

    The U.S. currently has eleven non immigrant guest worker visa programs.

    There is no cap on the number of workers allowed into the U.S. under the H-2A temporary agricultural guest worker visa program.
    “The provision could more than triple the number of H-2B visas for foreign workers seeking jobs at hotels, theme parks, ski resorts, golf courses, landscaping businesses, restaurants and bars. The move is intended to boost the supply of non-agricultural seasonal workers.”

    Alabama had to bite the bullet and hire LEGAL Immigrants for its AG Industry:
    Africans Relocate to Alabama to Fill Jobs After Immigration Law

    “East Coast began calling Atlanta refugee agencies several months ago looking for legal immigrants to come to Alabama for a year, said Mbanfu, refugee employment director for Lutheran Services in Atlanta. He said the company would have taken as many refugees as he could refer. The agency connected East Coast with refugees who had been in the country three to five years, he said.”
    Immigration raids yield jobs for legal workers

    ‘When federal agents descended on six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co. in December 2006, they rounded up nearly 1,300 suspected illegal immigrants that made up about 10% of the labor force at the plants.

    But the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents did not cripple the company or the plants. In fact, they were back up and running at full staff within months by replacing those removed with a significant number of native-born Americans, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

    “Whenever there’s an immigration raid, you find white, black and legal immigrant labor lining up to do those jobs that Americans will supposedly not do,” said Swain, who teaches law and political science.”
    Amid foreign worker shortage, Bar Harbor businesses turn to local labor

  3. avatar

    We’ve Got a Medicare/Medicaid Plan That Most Doctors Refuse

    Because Medicare limits costs to like half the costs needed to prevent the doctor’s bankruptcy….my “voluntary” experience on a medical service company Board brought these facts to light from hospital budgets.

    Remember back in the heydays [70s/80s] when even a ‘minimum wage” job at K-mart was 40 hr weeks and with employer paid HEALTH CARE? You had money for your own apartment rent, food and a car back then….now, the green card migrant farmers live in their cars and send the money out of the country anyway…

    Open Border Morons did this to us….and destroyed Medicaid under Obamacare.

  4. avatar

    Establishment Rep Rinos

    Some are even funded like Open Border Progressives; i.e. Soros.

    Our country cannot tolerate any more stalling and/or federal debt.