Biden Administration Falls Down on the Job With H-2B Program
As American wages fall further behind inflation, the Biden administration is delivering a one-two punch to inflict additional pain with more reckless immigration policies.
First, as FAIR reported this week, the White House is seeking to open new extralegal pathways enabling foreign guest workers to gain permanent residence in this country.
Second, and just as irresponsibly, the administration has no plans to stop bottom-feeding employers from using temporary work visas to keep chipping away at Americans’ paychecks and job opportunities.
While allotments of H-2B visas for low- and semi-skilled non-agricultural workers are increased annually, enforcement of the government’s wage and hour rules in this category has deteriorated to the point of disappearing.
“The H-2B program’s wage regulations are allowing employers to legally undercut U.S. wage standards and underpay migrant workers,” Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reported in 2021.
“In all but one of the top 15 H-2B occupations, the average hourly wage certified nationwide for H-2B workers was lower than the average hourly wage for all workers in the occupation nationwide.” This gives cheap foreign labor an advantage over American workers, especially in low-skill trades.
Promiscuous and unregulated use of the H-2B program has been criticized in countless other research studies over the years, with particular attention given to its deleterious effects on minority workers.
The situation has not improved as Biden & Co. import ever more workers from across the globe.
Yet the H-2B statute is clear: H-2B workers can only be hired if “unemployed persons capable of performing such service or labor cannot be found in this country,” not merely in the geographical area where the job is located.
“Current regulations do not accomplish the goal of the statute, and legally allow employers to underpay H-2B workers below national averages,” concludes Elizabeth Jacobs of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
Amidst the ongoing unfairness and disregard for the law, President Biden coincidentally issued an executive order last week launching “a new annual process to strengthen racial equity and support for underserved communities.” His order covering several Cabinet-level agencies conspicuously makes no mention of the Department of Labor, which is responsible for enforcing H-2B wage regulations.
The president’s high-tone rhetoric denouncing “discrimination and disinvestment” is just more ironic tinkling of cymbals to the ears of struggling American workers.