Expanding The H-2B Visa Program Is A Very, Very Bad Idea

President Trump told an audience in Kenosha, Wisconsin] , the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order he’d signed on April 18, 2017 was necessary to address the “widespread abuse in our immigration system” that results in Americans “being replaced by workers brought in from other countries.”

Yet, a year later, the president contradicted his own pledge to protect American workers when he asserted that because the economy was strengthening it made sense to bring in more foreign guest workers. So, he said, “we’re gonna have the H-2Bs come in,” a reference to workers who receive visas to do seasonal, non-agricultural jobs.

Having more H-2Bs “come in” to the country perpetuates the longstanding and well-known abuses of the program, works to undercut any serious effort to reform our immigration system, and is a disservice to those workers whose jobs the president pledged to protect.

In March, the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) informed Congress that an additional 30,000 H-2B visas would be approved – double the number of visas issued last year. On Monday, the ball was moved forward with the release of a joint DOL-DHS rule making those spots available to returning foreign workers. 

Although the newly-approved visas will be available solely to workers who’ve received an H-2B visa in the past, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, it is a decision which Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) believes betrays American workers.

In one of a series of tweets, Cotton expressed disappointment with the Administration’s “decision to import tens of thousands more low-skilled workers to take jobs that American workers want to do.” This is bad news for hard-working Americans.”

Cotton, who was briefed Tuesday on the “merit-based immigration proposal” currently being developed by the administration, rightly noted that too much cheap foreign labor “artificially suppresses wages and takes jobs from Americans.”

Cotton’s objections were echoed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who pointed out that the visas were approved “w/out commonsense reforms like E-verify 2 guarantee legal workforce.” Additionally, Grassley gave the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) grief for not acting on needed reforms of the disastrous EB-5 investor visa program.

The president deserves credit for pursuing regulatory and tax policies which have strengthened the economy and resulted in rising wages, particularly for low-wage workers. As the labor market has tightened, workers have gained the power to demand higher wages and that has benefited Americans on all economic levels.

In addition, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates there are 4.7 million Americans presently working part-time who want full-time employment, which underscores the reason to oppose importing cheap, foreign labor.

In April, a bipartisan group of senators wrote to the administration expressing continued concerns with existing abuses in the program.

“Absent significant reforms, it is hard to understand how an increase in the number of H-2B visas is in the best interests of American workers or H-2B visa holders,” stated the senators.

The Trump administration should not only heed the senators’ advice, but challenge Congress to act as well since the returning worker exemption is a disaster of their making.

Although there is a statutory annual cap of 66,000, Congress included a provision in the FY2019 appropriations legislation granting DHS authority to temporarily increase the annual limit by up to 63,500 additional visas. They did the same thing in 2017 and 2018.

If President Trump and Congress truly want a bipartisan agreement on immigration, they could start by preventing another expansion of the H-2B program and adding another brick to the wall.

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  1. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    Revamp the Visa program system , total redo
    Rename visas IE HT for Tech, HM: Medical, etc.
    Make into niches.
    Hire from US first vs overseas.

    • avatar

      I’ve Got a Better Idea With Automation and Robots Eliminating the Need for Human Employment, Especially in the Next 10 Years

      Automatic burger robots, Amazon robots replacing all humans, artificial intelligence replacing attorneys, etc, etc…

      Even now, banks that just use machines, key making robots, drone package delivery, self driving Uber cars, etc, etc

      How about we beat the competition by basically eliminating immigration for a generation or two?….we don’t need OVERPOPULATION cheap labor anymore…its not a world labor need anymore…

      The few jobs that remain should go only to American legal citizens. They can maintain and oil the robots.

  2. avatar
    Glenn Shannon on

    When you continue to increase those on welfare yes you need more foreign people to do the labor. If we kicked those off welfare and especially those that don’t deserve to be there we would have a huge surplus of people available. Can’t really say workers as most are too lazy to work but if the only choice was to work or starve it would be a different story.

  3. avatar

    WTF Trump? we still have unemployed people, why the hell are you giving illegal aliens American JOBS? that is a broken promise that you made…this makes me very angry with Trump altho I voted for him and will probably do so again…end all visas to illegal aliens

  4. avatar

    There are roughly 17 million foreigners here on the H 1 B Visa, taking jobs away from well educated young Americans. Worse, our government will fly any number of relatives of these invaders to this country so they can all lead ‘comfortable’ family lives. Soon as their senior citizen relatives get here they go right onto our Social Security roles as ‘dependents’. Second, somewhere between two thirds to three fourths of all the Puerto Rican’s in Puerto Rico are eating off of our food stamps. Puerto Rican’s have never, will never pay taxes to the United States as they enjoy ‘protectorate status’. We need to end the H 1 B Visa (yesterday)! We need to release Puerto Rico from any and all ties to the United States and make it a sovereign, self supporting country (yesterday)!

    • avatar

      We have thousands coming in our southern border, this should be enough cheap labor !
      End all H 1 Visas, & any other Visas programs.! 0000000000000

  5. avatar

    A moratorium on all immigration until our borders are secured.

    A moratorium just might force congress to secure the borders. It would make Big business “silicon valley” Google, facebook, youtube, twitter, et al. that want cheap foreign labor to increase their bottom line to also put pressure on congress to secure the borders. Then we can start deporting.

    Big business don’t want the illegals, they are uneducated, don’t speak english, illiterate, have a lot of health and crime problems, they are not employable and not good for high tech jobs.

  6. avatar
    ConcernedAmericanITworker on

    Enough of All these H1B and H2B visas!!! Abolish the entire visa program, at least until EVERY American has had a fair shot at getting hired, and paid the correct wage!!! And kick out all the mega indian IT agencies here, using loopholes to bring in even more indians to replace Americans. This loophole allows them to come in, but not get counted. Also I find it strange that the senator from Arkansas is against the raising of visa limits, since places like Rogers Arkansas is nearly completely taken over by indian IT agencies!!! Cognizant, Infosys, HCL, and others have built huge headquarters there (hmmm Walmart’s HQ is there too, coincidence? NOT!!!). And they have stolen all the jobs, while local Americans starve, jobless – unless hired by those agencies, but paid mere pennies on the dollar!!!!