The Biden administration’s move to raise the ceiling on H-2B seasonal work visas has angered some of the president’s most loyal supporters. With millions of Americans unemployed, 10 labor unions warn that the decision to add 22,000 slots to the existing 66,000 annual H-2B allotment will “expose more workers to the egregious abuses that pervade the program.”
Expanding H-2B is a perverse response to the White House’s self-inflicted border crisis. As oncoming waves of asylum seekers are issued work authorization papers, they will be hunting for jobs. The H-2B categories of semi-skilled, non-agricultural labor – including landscaping, horse training, fisheries, restaurants, the hospitality industry and even carnivals — are prime targets.
But accommodating one bad policy (open borders) with another just compounds the problem. As the AFL-CIO has noted: “The H-2B program displaces U.S. workers, lowers wages and exposes foreign workers to exploitation.”
FAIR called the administration’s action “nothing short of a kick in the teeth to the blue-collar workers President Biden claims to champion.”
North America’s Building Trades Unions, United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE HERE and more than a half-dozen other unions want to “revamp the H-2B system to provide enhanced worker protections.” These could include denying H-2B certifications in industries with an unemployment rate exceeding 6 percent, and barring employers who violate wage and safety laws.
While the unions appear content to tinker around the margins, unemployment in the bottom quartile of the labor pool remains painfully high. Infusing this struggling sector of the economy with more unskilled foreign workers is both nonsensical and abusive.
The administration put out the usual blather about requiring employers to certify that U.S. workers are not available, but there is zero chance this requirement will be enforced. The reality is that Americans will have to compete with an additional 22,000 foreign workers who can legally take their jobs.
“American voters turned to Joe Biden last November to unify our nation and lead us out of a historic crisis. It’s hard to imagine that chaotic borders and a wholesale giveaway of American jobs is what they had in mind,” said FAIR President Dan Stein.