Congress Continues to Jumble Immigration Priorities

It has been more than two years since President Trump won the White House by promising sweeping changes to border security and immigration law. Yet here we are—years later— and Congress has not passed any substantial reforms.  In fact, we are already three months into the fiscal year, and Congress still has not even funded the Department of Homeland Security.

The current spending authority expires this Friday after having been extended multiple times over the past few months. Republicans, who will no longer have control of the House come January, should be utilizing this spending package to secure funding for the border wall. After all, this is the last opportunity to pass the president’s immigration agenda for at least the next two years.  But the only immigration-related legislation Congress appears to be considering before Christmas is expanding the E-3 guest worker program.

Under the current E-3 visa program, up to 11,500 guest worker visas are awarded to Australian college graduates every year. However, in 2017, U.S. companies only hired 5,657 Australian graduates. Under the proposed legislation, Irish college graduates would become eligible to take advantage of the large chunk of unused E-3 visas. An E-3 visa permits a foreign graduate to work for two years in the United States; and although the visas can be renewed endlessly, graduates cannot switch jobs or become immigrants. As such, the visa remains a steadfast source of cheap, young graduate labor.

Because the program does not have a multi-year cap, as many as 50,000 American positions could be filled by foreign nationals by 2025. This could become especially harmful to young, American college graduates, who as a result, can lose job opportunities, wages, and bargaining power to their foreign counterparts that may be more willing to accept lower wages simply to remain in the country. If American companies are not utilizing the full number of available visas under the E-3 program, Congress should be looking to lower the cap— not expand the eligibility categories.

Nevertheless, in late November, the House of Representatives introduced and passed legislation to expand the E-3 program to include Ireland (without a single committee markup), and sent it to the Senate, where it is expected to receive a vote later this week. Under the Senate’s fast track process, the bill must receive unanimous consent to pass meaning that one Senator could prevent the legislation from making its way to President Trump.

Aside from the fact that this legislation blatantly disregards the president’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, lawmakers should not be wasting time providing special carve-outs for big business and/or other countries. Congress would be better off utilizing the limited time remaining in this year to fulfill ANY of the promises that they were elected on in 2016.

About Author


Heather Ham-Warren joined FAIR’s Government Relations department in 2018. In her role, Heather advocates for FAIR’s interests before Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. She also reviews and analyzes federal legislation and regulations, as well as conducts research on a wide variety of legal and immigration-related topics. Heather brings with her several years of political and legislative experience having worked for legislatures at the both the state and federal levels. She began her career in D.C. working on Capitol Hill—most recently serving as Legislative Director for a Florida Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law.


  1. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    Schumer & Dems CANT prioritize save for MORE Taxes & regulations vs solving problems
    & Now we have Govt shutdown, shall this last 30, 60 days??
    How long till Schumner OKs budget with WALL.
    GoFund me is being doxxed by foes.
    Go FundMe could aid in Wall support.
    Blame the Dems & RINOs.
    Contact: in DC.
    Look at the waste alone from, EZ to fund Wall from Govt waste alone & No taxes

  2. avatar

    I doubt you can find a Senator who has the gonads to block this idiocy from going through. IF such does NOT occur, we can hope that President Trump sees it for the boondoggle garbage it is.

  3. avatar

    Well, we simply have to accept that Congress, neither party represents any moderates or conservatives, or other Americans who have clearly made our wishes for an end to illegal aliens and a hiatus for several years on legal immigration or at least a severe decrease. I just read a new poll asking Americans what their biggest concerns are, what they consider their greatest problems. The answers were, without doubt, theur greatest problems are our government and immigration, no contest. We have been begging and pleading with our Congress for years now to stop overwhelming our nation with foreigners that are so costly to us and our country. They pay us NO ATTENTION. They refuse to do ANYTHING but give our money to foreign nations and let millions of their needy citizens into our nation every year/every day and FORCE we working taxpaying citizens to foot the horrendous cost of them being here. There appears to be no end to the invasion and no end to the costs of it. I guess it, along with the way our Congress spends money, will just continue until the end of our country, until there us no more money, until our debt is called, until the foreigners are in control of the USA, until they have bled us dry, until there is nothing left for anyone, until America is gone forever.

  4. avatar

    Mr. President tell the damn democrats ok no money for the wall i will send the airforce to fly along the border and open fire on anyone trying to cross the border and then the blood will be on the democrats hands!

    • avatar

      Yes! These people are a burden. Obama said it, Schumer said it in 2009 and did Hilary Clinton. Not only secure our boarder but change existing laws especially the one that if you have a child and you are not a citizen then either is your child. Period

  5. Pingback: Congress Continues to Jumble Immigration Priorities – | David A. Brewster's Blog

  6. avatar

    I guess Mr. Gordon believes our immigration policy should be set under cover of darkness! Not even a committee markup on a bill to increase foreign guest workers? Did he even bother to ask whether there should be special visa categories for certain nationalities? If there’s legitimate need for foreign labor, let the case be made in front of Congress in open debate, at least at the committee level. I expect that such “regular order” was bypassed here because the bill simply Stunk to High Heaven of cronyism.

  7. avatar

    Dont bother commenting. If you have an unfavorable opinion it will be censored. My comment was deleted and it was not angry or nasty. Just a different opinion. Those with intellect debate your ideas. Cowards delete. Guess its obvious which we have here.

    • avatar

      Wrong You must think you’re at HuffPo. Anything contrary there gets you banned for “hate speech”. Go to the Nov. 28 blog “Congress, Courts Could Clash Over Tech Visas” and about a third of the posts disagree with the writer.

      • avatar

        Leland, what’s going on here is all too common when it comes to the utterly disjointed immigration “policy,” if it can even be called that. Congress did a “carve out” for a favored nationality. Now, to quote the late, great Jimmy Durante, “Everybody wants to get in on the act!” No one bothers to ask why “mates and Sheila’s” from “Down Under” should get special treatment in the first place. My guess is that this was done for foreign policy purposes and not due to any legitimate US labor market need. As for the Cheap Labor Lobby, they NEVER saw an “unfilled quota” that shouldn’t be extended to another job category, or carried over to another fiscal year.

        • avatar

          And try to get into Australia without having some very specialized skill. The employer has to jump through hoops to prove they have tried to hire an Australian and are unable to. It’s not a matter of taking their word either, like happens in this country. Their population is only 25 million and they discuss becoming over populated all the time. It’s not like here where if you support immigration restrictions for our already over populated country you get accused of racism by the 40 watters and sell outs in the environmental movement. Like the Sierra Club.