DHS to Give Away an Additional 35,000 H-2B Visas to Foreign Workers
Written by Luis Miguel
The Department of Homeland Security is raising the cap on H-2B visas, allowing for an additional 35,000 foreign seasonal nationals to come to the United States.
DHS said it is balancing the cap lift by simultaneously cracking down on fraud and abuse.
“This year’s supplemental allocation was determined after extensive consultation with stakeholders — including members of Congress and the Department of Labor — and is intended to strike a careful balance that benefits American businesses and American workers,” the department said in a statement.
Congress caps the number of H-2B visas at 66,000 a year. These give temporary legal status to non-agricultural seasonal workers in areas such as landscaping and the service sector (hotels, restaurants, etc.).
DHS has congressional authority to increase the cap by 64,000 visas per year. The Trump administration raised it by 30,000 last year.
The question of H-2B visas puts immigration hawks against big business. The former argue that the hiring of foreign workers takes jobs from and drives down the wages of American citizens, while the latter argue it is a critical move to fill labor needs.
The intersection of interests has resulted in the presence of both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition to the cap increase.
A group of Democrats and Republicans, for instance, wrote to the administration urging the cap not be lifted.
“These realities of the H-2B program, as it operates today, incentivize unscrupulous employers to hire H-2B workers instead of American workers and create poor working conditions for immigrant workers and American workers alike,” the letter read. “Therefore, absent significant regulatory and legislative reforms to the program, we do not believe that an increase in the number of H-2B visas is in the interests of either American workers or H-2B visa holders.”
The signers were Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Richard Durbin (D-Ill).
The letter further argued:
Studies have shown that the H-2B visa program leaves immigrant workers vulnerable to wage theft, abuse, and trafficking. Because they are often at the mercy of their employers, H-2B workers may also be too scared to speak out against poor working conditions. They may also have difficulties accessing the justice system to protect themselves from employer retaliation if they do speak out.
But Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf asserted he was urged by lawmakers last month to raise the cap.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who supports the increase, said: “I’ve got a whole bunch of small businesses in New Hampshire who aren’t going to be able to do their business this summer if they don’t have those workers.”
Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, made a similar argument in favor of bringing in more foreign workers. “If that stretches out into June or July, before those actual releases come, that’s too late for the season and so trying to be able to get those done faster is better than slowly trying to be able to piece those out,” he said.
In an effort to appease both sides, DHS is pairing the cap increase with measures intended to combat fraud and abuse in the system. This includes requiring a matching start date on a petition and the employer’s needed start date, improving collaboration between DHS and the Labor Department on site visits, and restricting supplemental visits to workers who have previously shown they can follow U.S. immigration law.
But some immigration reduction groups said these steps were not enough.
“The H-2B visa is a flawed program that depresses wages and eliminates job opportunities for American workers,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). “In our view, labor market dynamics do not justify an increase that is 5,000 more than last year. Congress must quit offloading this politically unpopular decision to bring in more wage-impacting foreign workers.”
DHS is also providing 10,000 visas for workers from Central America’s Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—an effort to reduce immigration from those countries.
Businesses that seek a greater number of foreign workers speak of “tight” labor markets and labor shortages. Especially at a time, like the present, when the economy is relatively strong, they say alarmingly that the country’s economic fortunes won’t last unless we import more workers to fill the jobs “Americans won’t do.”
But is it a question of Americans not wanting to do the work, or of Americans not wanting to do the work at the substandard wages these companies want to pay?
Allowing large numbers of workers into the country would undo the economic gains the working class has made, allowing firms to offer citizens less, since they are competing for work with foreign nationals used to earning a tenth of what their American counterparts are normally paid.
Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.
Courtesy of The New American