In a big win for American workers, especially those who are most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Trump Administration announced on Thursday that it was putting on hold a plan to issue 35,000 additional H-2B visas this spring to low-skilled foreign workers.
To clear up various misreporting – DHS’s rule on the H-2B cap is on hold pending review due to present economic circumstances. No additional H-2B visas will be released until further notice. Per the statute, H-2B allocations are set in consultation with @USDOL.— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) April 2, 2020
The move was a result, in part, of your tremendous activism efforts. NumbersUSA activists flooded the White House with messages, urging Pres. Trump to put the additional H-2B visas on hold.
Adding to the onslaught, on Wednesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson unloaded on DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf for siding with Corporate America over the interests of American workers by moving forward with the extra visas.
Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has used his discretionary powers to add 35,000 extra visas. That's a total of 100,000 extra workers coming to this country to take jobs during the single biggest unemployment crisis in a century. It's demented.
--Tucker Carlson, April 1, 2020
You can watch Tucker Carlson's full segment by clicking here.
After a record-setting number of unemployment claims (3.3 million) were filed two weeks ago, unemployment claims doubled last week when more than 6 million claims were filed.
According to this morning's jobs report, the economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate increased from 3.5% to 4.4%.
Many of those Americans losing jobs work in the hospitality and food service industries. Those are the same jobs typically filled by H-2B workers. But it's not only low-skilled workers who are vulnerable.
Still planning to issue 85,000+ high-skill H-1B visas
Also this week, the Trump Administration announced that it had received 275,000 applications for the H-1B high-skilled visa program. The federal government will soon begin the process of awarding at least 85,000 visas to high-skilled foreign workers.
No one knows how long the Covid-19 crisis will last. The White House says that if all Americans closely follow its guidelines the country could reach its apex in about two weeks. (You can review the government's guidelines by clicking here.) But researchers in Washington state predict that Virginia, home of NumbersUSA offices, could still be two months away from reaching its peak.
The longer the crisis lasts, the harder the hit for American workers. It's adding insult to injury to continue bringing in foreign workers when a huge number of Americans are now out of work -- a number that will surely grow over the coming months.
The Trump Administration took a strong first step in halting its plan to issue more H-2B visas, but much more can be done. The Trump Administration should not be admitting anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident without first testing them for coronavirus antibodies. First and foremost, however, we need to ensure adequate testing is in place for our own citizens, first responders, and healthcare workers before diverting tests to points of entry.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Apr 20th 2020 @ 7:15am EDT