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Amid Economic Crisis, DHS Expands H-2B Unskilled Worker Program

‘Increasing the number of guestworkers at this time would only add to the economic distress caused by the pandemic…’

Amid Economic Crisis, Trump Admin is Expanding H-2B Unskilled Worker Program
Unskilled migrant laborers pick apples / IMAGE: Farm and Food Care via Youtube

(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Despite a looming unemployment crisis brought on by coronavirus-related shutdowns, the Trump administration appears committed to the planned expansion of the H-2B unskilled guest-worker program.

The State Department has suspended visas for foreign-exchange workers in light of the pandemic, but the Department of Homeland Security remains on track to distribute the first batch of 35,000 unskilled foreign worker visas on April 1.

Those visas apply only to the second half of fiscal year 2020, and 10,000 are specifically designated for unskilled laborers from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, according to a DHS bulletin.

It notes that the policy is designed to “complement” border-security initiatives with the three Central American countries in order “to stem the flow of illegal migration in the region and encourage lawful migration to the United States.”

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However, H-2B critics—most of whom likely support President Donald Trump’s overall immigration efforts—have consistently blasted the program for displacing American workers, driving down wages and contributing to illegal settlement after the visas expire.

Now, the visas present the even greater concern of a public health threat, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

“There is a good case for suspending admission of all temporary workers, with few exceptions, until the crisis subsides and the economy begins to recover,” said Jessica M. Vaughan, CIS director of policy studies, in a statement Wednesday.

“There is no easy or effective way to be sure that arriving foreign workers and their families are not bringing the coronavirus,” said Vaughn, adding that, “increasing the number of guestworkers at this time would only add to the economic distress caused by the pandemic and public response to it.”

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What’s more, many of the businesses that have filed for H-2B visas are from areas in the economy where American workers typically suffer the most in an economic downturn, according to Department of Labor H-2B statistics.

In January, Fox News host Laura Ingraham confronted President Trump about the H-2B issue during an exclusive television interview.

“I hear that your team is planning on advocating more foreign workers coming in for some of these high-tech companies,” Ingraham said. “I’m very concerned about that, as are a lot of your supporters … You ran on ‘America First.’”

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