Congress Stimulates Blue-Collar Visas, ‘Mixed-Status’ Households

Two provisions in the $900 billion stimulus package are of particular interest – and benefit – to selected groups of foreign workers and illegal aliens.

The first allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor Department to issue more H-2B blue-collar visas. This foreign-labor program has been widely used by businesses to drag down wages of American workers in landscaping, conservation work, meatpacking, construction and fishing jobs, among others, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

Comparing wages of H-2B foreign workers to the national average in 25 blue-collar sectors, CIS found that 21 offered lower pay to foreign workers than Americans.

DHS secretaries over the last four years have repeatedly allowed businesses to import more H-2B workers above the annual cap of 66,000. Coming at a time when 24.5 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, Congress’ stimulus is hardly a boon for U.S. workers.

The second provision enables “mixed status” households with illegal aliens to receive stimulus checks they were denied under the first round last spring.

U.S. citizens and green card holders will be eligible for $600 in direct aid, even if they filed a joint tax return with an undocumented spouse, as well as additional $600 checks per dependent child. The stimulus bill also retroactively makes mixed-status families with one Social Security number-holder eligible for the $1,200 per household and $500 per child checks allocated by the CARES Act in March.

Illegal aliens or other non-citizens who do not have Social Security numbers and file individual tax returns would remain ineligible for stimulus checks, as would U.S. citizen children without a parent with a Social Security number.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are 1.4 million spouses and 3.7 million children in mixed-status families who are U.S. citizens or have legal status.

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