Kushner’s Conflicting Immigration Priorities
By Preston Huennekens | April 26, 2019
After months of working behind-the-scenes, Jared Kushner is reportedly ready to present President Trump with his immigration plan. On Tuesday, Kushner told #Time100 summit attendees that the President’s first immigration priority is protecting American wages. Yet in the same remarks, he confirmed his desire to increase the number of guest workers allowed into the country.
In April 2017, Trump signed the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, codifying his desire to defend American workers and protect their wages. While the text of Kushner’s plan remains unreleased it is clear from reports that he desires to expand the number of guest workers. Increasing the number of guest worker is antithetical to protecting wages. Guest workers are often paid less than their American peers. Tight labor markets drive wages up and expand opportunities for the poor and underrepresented in our society. Distorting that market by flooding it with cheap foreign labor erases those gains. In some egregious cases, employers replace permanent positions with temporary guest workers, often forcing the Americans to train their replacements.
Despite these concerns, members of both parties support increasing the number of skilled and unskilled guest workers. The Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate worked together to craft H.J. Res. 31 — the spending bill passed that ended the government shutdown. Buried in the legislation was language allowing the DHS secretary to raise the H-2B guest-worker cap from 66,000 to nearly 132,000 for the fiscal year. Both Democrats (e.g. H.R. 1778) and Republicans (e.g. S. 386, H.R. 60) have introduced legislation in the 116th Congress to increase or loosen regulations for H-1B, H-2A and H-2B guest workers.
Any guest-worker increases found in Kushner’s proposal runs counter to the President’s “Buy American, Hire American” platform. If Kushner and the President want to ensure that American wages grow, slowing the growth of temporary foreign labor is a good start.