When the federal government makes an announcement about a controversial policy late on a Friday afternoon before a three-day holiday weekend, you can rest assured that they aren’t terribly proud of what they’re doing and are hoping that nobody notices.
And that’s exactly what went down last Friday with the Department of Homeland Security’s stealth announcement that it had decided that a shortage of low skilled-workers in the U.S. was so acute that it needed to authorize an immediate increase of the H-2B visa cap. As a result an additional 15,000 seasonal guest workers will be admitted during the final months of FY 2018.
There are several reasons why DHS had good reason to be ashamed of its actions:
- This unwarranted increase will pit Americans with less than a high school diploma – arguably the most vulnerable workers in the nation – against increased foreign competition for entry-level jobs, like hotel workers, housekeepers, construction workers, landscapers, and food processors.
- When former DHS Secretary John Kelly authorized an increase of low-skilled workers in 2017, he promised it would be a “one time increase.”
- More than fifty percent of Americans of working age without a high school degree are not in the labor force, according to BLS data.
- The unemployment rate for construction workers is 9.7 percent, 8.9 percent in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, and 11.3 percent for farming, fishing, and forestry occupations – all much higher than the national unemployment rate, currently hovering around 4.1 percent, according to BLS.
The bottom line is that Secretary Nielsen had no obligation to authorize this increase, yet despite the facts, she chose to increase immigration nevertheless. Unfortunately for her, we were watching.