As U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer renegotiates NAFTA, officials at the Department of Homeland Security are trying to shed light on the devastating impacts that a special NAFTA visa program has on American workers. But they are being told to "stand down", according to a recent story from Breitbart.
In 2016, the feds issued nearly 15,000 new temporary work permits to professional workers from Canada and Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
According to Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) office, the number of NAFTA foreign workers currently working in the U.S. is approaching 100,000.
These foreign workers receive authorization to work in the United States through the TN (Treaty National) visa program. TN visa holders can work in the United States for up to three years (which can be renewed indefinitely), reside in the U.S., and bring their spouses and minor children with them.
Pres. Trump's tough talk on trade and its impact on American workers throughout the 2016 election was a major reason for his wins in key swing border states like Michigan and Wisconsin, propelling him to the White House.
NO protections for American workers
Unlike other temporary foreign worker programs (H-1B and H-2B) that provide a few, albeit weak, protections for American workers, there are no such requirements under the TN visa program. U.S. employers who wish to employ Mexican or Canadian nationals can do so without satisfying wage requirements or attempting to first recruit American workers for the same job.
While the TN visa is limited to three years, it can be renewed indefinitely. TN visa holders can bring their spouses and minor children, should they choose to live in the United States, but the spouses and minor children are not authorized to work. (Of course, without an E-Verify requirement for all employers, they can still manage to obtain jobs.)
There are 63 different job titles in the fields of general management, medical, science, and education for TN foreign workers. These include accountant, architect, hotel manager, engineer, lawyer, dentist, physician, pharmacist, chemist, geologist, physicist, college or university professor.
The business community, for obvious reasons, loves the TN visa program because it expands the pool of eligible professional workers that it can hire from, which helps keep wages down. So, high-ranking career officials at both DHS and the USTR, under pressure from big business, issued the "stand down" order to DHS officials out of fear that if Pres. Trump learns more about the TN visa program, he'll order USTR Lighthizer to renegotiate that part of NAFTA as well.
You can learn more about the program on the DHS website.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Mar 19th 2018 @ 9:35am EDT