GOP Lawmakers: Halt Visas to Foreign Workers While 33 Million Are Unemployed

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) looks on as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivers the annual financial stability report to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mnuchin said the Treasury can extend the government's debt limit suspension period into February before it exhausts …
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A coalition of Republican senators and congressmen are asking President Trump to expand his recent executive order to suspend visas for foreign workers seeking employment in the United States while more than 33 million Americans are unemployed.

In letters to Trump, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) request that Trump prevent unemployed Americans from being forced to compete against foreign workers at a time of record joblessness spurred by the Chinese coronavirus crisis.

Last month, Trump signed an executive order slowing visa processing for foreign nationals seeking employment and extended family green cards — a group that represents less than ten percent of all annual legal immigration.

The senators say Trump ought to expand the order to:

  • Suspend admissions of all foreign visa workers for at least 60 days
  • Suspend visas to foreign workers for at least a year or until national unemployment levels return to normal
  • Suspend the EB-5 visa program that provides green cards to wealthy foreign investors, primarily from China

The senators write:

That suspension should, at a minimum, include H-2B visas (nonagricultural seasonal workers), H-1B visas (specialty occupation workers), and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program (extension of foreign student visas after graduation). We also urge you to suspend the EB-5 immigrant visa program, effective immediately. [Emphasis added]

There are millions of high school and college students who, if not for the coronavirus pandemic, would be walking across a graduation stage in front of their families and friends over the next few weeks. Instead of celebrating their hard work, most will be receiving their diplomas in the mail while worrying about whether they will be able to find a job in this market. For many high school graduates and college students, they will spend the next few weeks at home making tough decisions about delaying or foregoing college this fall due to their limited family resources. There is no reason why these young people, especially, should not have access to seasonal, nonagricultural work such as summer resort employment or landscaping before those positions are given to imported foreign labor under the H-2B program. [Emphasis added]

Likewise, the congressmen are requesting Trump “suspend the issuance of guest worker visas until unemployment returns to normal levels” coupled with a permanent suspension of the EB-5 visa program.

“With the unemployment rate at levels unseen since the Great Depression, our government should not be importing the competition of American workers,” the congressmen write.

“We urge you to further use your legal authority and suspend substantially all temporary guest worker programs,” the congressmen write. “Such action would provide the greatest possible protection for American workers and further exemplify your commitment to the economic prosperity of our great nation.”

Recent surveys find overwhelming support for pauses to legal immigration. The latest Washington Post/University of Maryland poll revealed that about 65 percent of all Americans said they support suspending all immigration at the moment.

As Breitbart News exclusively reported, H-1B and H-2B visas, as well as J-1 visas, E visas, O-1 visas, L visas, and B visas, were considered for suspension in prior drafts of the order. These visa programs were exempted from the order signed by Trump.

While the U.S. admits about 1.2 million legal immigrants a year, who can permanently remain in the country, another roughly one million work visas are provided to foreign nationals annually. These visa programs — like the H-1B visa, the J-1 visa, the EB-5 visa, and the F-1 student visa — hugely benefit China.

Even as more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment in recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and Agriculture Department have waived visa requirements for H-2A visa farmworkers and H-2B visa nonagricultural workers to help fast-track their entry into the U.S.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

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