DHS Approves Record Number of Foreign Worker Visas



They’re cheering at Martha’s Vineyard and in the horse paddocks, but the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to double the increase of H-2B foreign worker visas isn’t good news for America’s working class.

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, lauded the move by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, saying it “will provide relief to horse trainers desperate to hire foreign workers for backstretch positions.”

Out at Cape Cod, where restaurateurs and other businesses thirst for more low-skilled foreign labor, some owners say they are “working seven days a week flipping burgers, busing tables and cleaning up cigarette butts to make up for the staffing shortage.” 

The Trump administration has repeatedly allowed the H-2B program to grow beyond its annual statutory cap of 66,000. In 2017 and 2018, Nielsen permitted “temporary” increases of 15,000 more guest workers.

“Congress authorized the increases, but left the decision up to DHS so as to avoid political accountability,” noted Preston Huennekens, a researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies.

In February, the federal spending bill signed by the president allowed DHS to raise the H-2B cap up to 135,000 – a level never hit, even under President Obama.

Not surprisingly, wages have stagnated or declined in H-2B job classifications ranging from groundskeepers to coaches to carnival workers. The non-partisan Economic Policy Institute reported that wages flat-lined or fell in all of the top 15 H-2B occupations. For workers in 10 of the top 15 H-2B fields, wages declined.

Huennekens’ CIS analysis concludes that the H-2B program “is a raw deal for Americans because H-2B visa holders get paid less than their American counterparts. In fact, H-2B visas prevent many of the neediest Americans from securing meaningful employment.”

Yet, with 6.2 million Americans still unemployed, and even more discouraged from even looking for work, Trump insists “we need people.”

“For President Trump to allow this program to flourish is a betrayal of his promise to protect the American worker,” Huennekens concluded.

Trump himself has used low-skill visas to fill jobs at some of his properties. In October, his Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, requested H-2Bs for 78 cooks, housekeepers and servers.  

He may call that the “Art of the Deal,” but is it worth cheering about? While not openly applauding (wouldn’t be politically expedient), the silence from Capitol Hill Democrats speaks volumes about their priorities, as well.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

13 Comments

  1. avatar

    These whole stupid arguments miss the point and let the status quo to continue and increase.
    A real block to illegal immigration is to take away the jobs these people fill keeping the middle class headed to the poor house. JUST TAKE AWAY THE JOBS.
    IF THE DEMOCRATS WOULD PASS A LAW MAKING IT A CRIME TO HIRE AND ILLEGAL–ten thousand dollar fine each incident and $100.00 dollar per laborer. there would be not illegal immigration. The chance for a job replacing a low wage American is GONE and the wages of the middle class would need to increase—supply and demand.
    The result would be a GOP that would immediately legalize all illegals in this country since yesterday.

  2. avatar
    Steve Runyan on

    This may be bad, but look at it closer. The Democrat, liberal push for unsecured borders and illegal immigration is fueled in large part by their cry for labor. “We need cheap labor, and illegals provide that. Who would pick lettuce and strawberries if we didn’t let them in illegally?” By supporting LEGAL, documented workers from other countries, it undercuts this argument. The fact is, we already have undocumented workers filling many of these positions. With a paper trail that a VISA provides, the now documented foreign worker can work over the table, paying taxes and fees instead of receiving cash payments and living on the government dole.

  3. avatar

    Trump, WTF are you doing? doubling the VISAS? are you nuts? good way to lose your base…FULFILL your promises

  4. avatar
    Bennie Sowers on

    President trump must realize that we see his hiprosity and his increase in H2B visas he is a lying hiprocrite and I am sick of it. No fucking more immigrants from anywhere this is the dumbest lot of fools in our congress on the planet. In one year we will have allowed so many parasites into this country we will never be able to turn this invasion around we the ppl had better start during the leaders of this country before we allow them to destroy what simblance of a country we have left.president Trump is a liar who is allowing more illegals into this country than any other president but he is throwing the rock hiding his hand.

  5. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    Hire Americans first, then overseas types. Give Americans a chance for positions only
    Wrong & unfair to workers nationwide

  6. avatar
    Don Richardson on

    The rich like cheap labor. Maybe they should take a few thousand of the criminal invaders into each of their homes and share the wealth with the poor.
    Those in power are asking us to share our jobs with the criminal invaders.
    There was an illegal alien girl working at the business where my son worked. She got deported. Just over a year later she came back and got a job there again. She had a different name and a different social security number and bragged that it was easy to get across the border.
    If breaking the law is acceptable for the criminal invaders, why do they hold us accountable when we do?

  7. avatar
    Yazmin Linares on

    Wtf!!!! Hooe it’s not Mexicans!!! WHAT ABOUT OUR HOMELESS!! THE NUMBER OF HOMELESS IS A STAGGERING 600,000 & RISING!! HELLO!!

  8. avatar

    A lot of people in Congress talking about how a shutdown of the border is going to be bad for the economy. The same old Democrats and RINOs who have done nothing but talk for decades and make promises then ignore those promises. This is the fault of the political establishment in this country. If they don’t want the border shut down then pass the laws that will stop this invasion. Many also say the we can’t stop giving money to Central American countries because we have to help those countries improve their situations and then their people will stop coming here. Another up is down argument. We have been sending money for years and nothing has changed. We have more people than ever coming. Enough of repeating the same old things and expecting a different result.

  9. avatar

    Discouraging News on H-2B Increases under Trump Administration

    As bad as it is, would I put the Open Border Party (OBP) in President to make it FAR worse instead? Also, Trump’s chain migration elimination is like millions of permanent eliminated not thousands temporarily here….they did say temporary H-2Bs?

    The main thing lately…close the border this week Trump, your base will weaken if you don’t.

    We’ve had some very bad immigration habits [like smoking] in the past decades and we must kick this drug-like addiction. Its a new paradigm and sometimes it takes a while to get it constant..

  10. avatar

    Kirstjen Nielsen is a Super Cuck for ILLEGAL ALIENS and the Cheap Labor Lobby, just like the idiot who was DHS head before her, John Kelly.

    • avatar
      Sandra Wilno on

      There are alot of Americans that need jobs, with out letting visas for non-americans. Not right!