If President Trump is, as he claimed, leading “America’s all-out war” against the coronavirus, he has an odd way of proving it. President Trump’s war apparently doesn’t include the simple, effective and legal end, under his presidential authority, of issuing needless employment-based visas to foreign nationals. Many of the new visa holders will be arriving from Mexico and India, countries that also face significant battles against the coronavirus.
The federal government’s immigration failures manifest themselves on two fronts. First, President Trump’s failure to curb the unnecessary H-1B and H-2 visas expose already at-risk Americans to greater health perils.
In India, the primary sending country for H-1B visa workers, coronavirus is on the rise. The head of the Indian Council of Medical Research, epidemiology and communicable diseases, admitted last month that further coronavirus transmission throughout India’s communities is “inevitable.”
Mexico, a primary sending country for the H-2B non-agriculture visa, recently declared a coronavirus health emergency. Officials expressed concern that Mexico’s health system could be overwhelmed if the crisis continued unabated.
Nevertheless, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, a former immigration lobbyist, approved a 35,000 increase in H-2B visas. Wolf’s arbitrary approval, a concession to the cheap labor lobby, means that 35,000 more low-skilled workers will be added to the congressionally approved 66,000 H-2B visa holders. In late breaking and encouraging news, DHS announced that the proposed H-2B increase is on hold until further notice. Remember though, on immigration, there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.
Even more hurtful to struggling U.S. workers, especially those who hold jobs in agriculture, landscaping, hospitality and construction – the H-2 visa holders likely landing spots – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, cooperating hand in hand with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, announced that the State Department will loosen the application process for H-2 foreign workers. Pompeo and Perdue are immigration expansionists.
The State Department said that it will suspend all visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, including in-person interviews, once a standard requirement for most H-2 visa applicants. Under the new guidelines, consular officials can waive the face-to-face interview to speed the visa issuance process. A better but unconsidered option would be to, citing the coronavirus pandemic, cancel the visa’s validity until 2021. The Trump administration’s message to Americans: do the best you can, but we’re accelerating foreign workers’ arrivals so they can displace you at the earliest possible moment.
Moving on, the annual H-1B visa lottery was held April 1, a cruel April Fool’s Day joke, and paved the way for 85,000 more tech workers to displace Americans, and hamper recent U.S.-born college tech graduates from securing employment in their chosen fields. The H-1B is a long-running fraud that’s based on the discredited argument that the U.S. has a tech worker shortage which can only be resolved through more South Asian immigration. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acknowledged that most of this year’s 275,000 H-1B visa applicants are Indian nationals.
Moreover, for years, Silicon Valley has consistently and heartlessly laid off major chunks of its personnel, a trend that will get more severe as the coronavirus persists. Many of those who have been laid off would doubtless be available for rehire.
In candidate Trump’s 2016 campaign speech, he promised to “reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers.” Subsequently, once in the White House, President Trump signed a “Hire American, Buy American” executive order. President Trump long ago abandoned his campaign vow and his executive order.
President Trump’s second coronavirus-related immigration failure is that, at the exact moment that his administration has authorized more imported labor, American workers are losing their jobs en masse and face a dire employment future. In the last two weeks, ten million Americans have filed unemployment insurance claims. But within the next few weeks, Americans might look back at the March unemployment filings as the good old days. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis predicts that, just as newly authorized H-1B foreign nationals enter the labor market, the number unemployed may reach 47 million, and the unemployment rate could reach 31.1 percent, much higher than at any time during the Great Depression.
The U.S. economy is rapidly spiraling downward. Jobs, both low- and high-skilled, are near-impossible to find. Yet the Trump administration, even though no rational argument can be made in the policy’s defense, continues inexplicably and unjustifiably to give preference to foreign workers over unemployed Americans.