If a contest were held to name the visas most hurtful to American workers among the 25-odd federally issued ones that include employment authorization, a tie would be the likely outcome. The overwhelming majority of employment-based visas mean that an American job will be lost to a foreign national or that a qualified U.S. candidate will be denied job opportunities because craven employers have such easy access to the cheap labor that visa holders provide.
Even visas that specifically deny employment are illegally and fraudulently substituted for work permits. Infosys Limited, an Indian outsourcing company, hired B-1 visa holders to perform skilled and unskilled labor that denied chances to Americans even though that visa is designated for temporary entry only. An estimated 1 million Indian nationals, predominantly lawful, white-collar IT workers, prevent American citizens from obtaining gainful employment.
Recently, President Trump has been making noise about extending his April 22 immigration Executive Order to ban several employment-based visa categories from entry, at least for the immediate future. So far, nothing has come from the president’s ramblings, and rumors of further restrictions may be just more Trumpian smoke and mirrors.
Nevertheless, Capitol Hill chatter persists that the president’s expanded proclamation could bar U.S. entry for H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 visa applicants. Those visa categories represent, respectively, H-1B tech workers, H-2B seasonal nonagricultural workers, L-1 international transfers and J-1 Exchange Visitor programs that include au pairs, summer work-travel participants and interns, as well as high school and university student exchanges, and medical professionals.
President Trump’s premise that more foreign nationals entering the devastated U.S. economy represents, as he said, “a risk” is indisputable. After all, more than 40 million Americans are jobless, and their prospects are dim. The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that more than 100,000 small businesses have closed forever. The economy is slowly reopening, but only at partial capacity. Even though the 40 million-plus total and the brutal reality that the U.S. is facing one of its most devastating economic turndowns are inarguable facts, immigration advocates and congressional globalists aren’t fazed one iota.
The Fortune 500 lobby wrote a whiny letter to President Trump, the departments of labor, state and Homeland Security signed by 324 employers, trade, industry and higher education associations including profiteers Google, Facebook and Amazon. Collectively, the lobbyists pleaded with President Trump to keep their incoming cheap labor stream flowing, arguing ineffectively and insultingly that “constraints on our human capital are likely to result in unintended consequences and may cause substantial economic uncertainty if we have to recalibrate our personnel based on country of birth.” In other words, if visas are put on hold, U.S.-based corporations would actually have to – perish the thought – hire Americans.
Given that Congress should be defending Americans, 21 GOP House Representatives shamefully joined forces with the Fortune 500 when they sent a separate, supportive letter defending the presence of foreign nationals, specifically those who are part of the Optional Practical Training program. Never congressionally approved, OPT is today one of the largest displacers of American tech workers. OPT includes thousands of graduates annually, and sidelines an equal number of American job aspirants.
Welcome to the world of immigration politics! No intelligent argument can be made that within the U.S. au pairs, landscapers, lifeguards and bookkeepers can’t be found, especially in this wrecked economy. Most of those jobs would be ideal for recently graduated but unemployed high school or college graduates. The J-1, H-2B and L visas have devastated those employment categories. Even America’s medical school graduates, more than 35,000, have lost out on residency positions without which they can’t practice as physicians because international graduates have entered on H-1B and J-1 visas to fill those jobs.
In 2017, a political eternity ago, President Trump signed an Executive Order, “Buy American and Hire American,” intended to generate higher wages and greater opportunities for U.S. workers. Today, the president has a chance to take a big step forward toward reaching that goal. For President Trump, now is put-up or shut-up time. President Trump must reject the immigration lobby’s shallow pleas, and keep his promise to put Americans first.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.