FAIR Urges President Trump to Suspend Guestworker Programs
Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | May 2020
On May 4, FAIR wrote to President Trump urging him to suspend all guestworker programs in light of the economic destruction wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. This letter accompanies similar efforts by lawmakers in the House and Senate, urging the President to issue a new executive order suspending these unnecessary programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that the unemployment rate reached 14.7 percent at the end of April – the highest level since the Great Depression. Over 33 million Americans are out of work as state and local governments continue enforcing lockdowns and quarantine measures to stymie the spread of the coronavirus.
Acknowledging these economic realities, President Trump issued a proclamation suspending some forms of immigration into the U.S. on April 22. He cited the economic impact that immigrants have on Americans competing for jobs, yet his proclamation covered very few economic immigrants.
In the letter, FAIR president Dan Stein addressed those concerns and made a very clear ask – a new proclamation is necessary to protect American workers and wages. He said that the Federal government should not force Americans to compete with cheap foreign guestworkers for limited job opportunities, even in normal times. Importing further guestworkers now is unconscionable given the extraordinary crisis facing American workers struggling to find jobs.
We are calling on you to issue a new executive order suspending the issuance of nonimmigrant guestworker visas. These visas – notably H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 – are unnecessary given the economic conditions facing American households. Every year, over 66,000 and 350,000 H-2B and J-1 unskilled workers fill jobs in restaurants, bars, amusement parks, and other service industries. Employers paid these foreign workers anywhere from 7.3 to 31 percent less than Americans, despite performing the same jobs. How can our country allow over 400,000 - nearly a half a million - potential jobs go to cheaper guestworkers instead of Americans struggling to pay rent?
FAIR also calls for the end of the EB-5 investor green card program, which allows rich foreigners to pay for American citizenship. Congress designed the program to help inject capital into poorer areas of our country that needed investment and jobs. Instead, FAIR argues, “this program simply allows foreign millionaires – mostly Chinese – to fund luxury projects in California and New York. The EB-5 program makes a mockery of American citizenship.”
Finally, FAIR calls for the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security to jointly review the labor certifications of thousands of pending employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to ensure that the employer requests are still justifiable, that the businesses are still viable, and that the foreign workers are still needed at this time. This is an extra step that will further protect American workers during this unprecedented crisis.
Fortunately, it sounds like the White House is listening to FAIR’s requests. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 8 that the White House is targeting “visa categories including H-1B, designed for highly skilled workers, and H-2B, for seasonal migrant workers, as well as student visas and the work authorization that accompanies them.” If true, this would be a massive win for American workers and a smart move by the administration.
View FAIR’s full letter here: FAIR Letter, May 4, 2020