DHS Cancels H-2B Giveaway
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | Apri 2020
In early March, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that he was using his authority to issue 35,000 additional H-2B visas above the statutory cap of 66,000. On April 2, facing widespread pushback from advocates and activists, DHS announced that it was suspending this action due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 continues to rock the American economy. Over 6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits because of job losses due to COVID-19 quarantining. Many of these jobs are in the service industry such as waiters, bartenders, and other recreation and entertainment professions. Quarantining and state-issued “shelter in place” orders have crippled these businesses.
Now is not the time to import foreign guestworkers to work in industries that have laid off American workers. DHS understands this and took the right action to avoid hurting American workers further. FAIR continues to advocate for a complete moratorium on all guest workers during this crisis, in order to give Americans a fighting chance at meaningful employment during these troubling economic times.
DHS did not indicate when they would begin issuing H-2B visas again. In their statement, they noted that they issue H-2B allocations alongside the Department of Labor (DOL). But the suspension of H-2B visa issuance is a temporary victory for American workers in the service industry. Importing thousands of guestworkers at this time would send the wrong message to workers at this time. DHS and the Trump administration must also look at halting other visa programs, such as the H-1B, during this time as unemployment continues to rise in response to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.