Washington: The Trump administration announced that President Donald Trump will temporarily suspend new work visas through the end of the year, which will restrict thousands of foreigners from seeking employment in the United States.
The action is taken as a part of an effort to limit the entry of immigrants in the USA and to preserve American jobs amid the economic depression due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The sweeping order is placed until the end of the year that is December 31st, 2020. President Trump blocks a wide variety of jobs including computer programmers, engineers, doctors, and many other skilled workers who enter the country under H1B visa as well as those for seasonal workers in the hospitality industry, students on work-study summer programs, and au pairs who arrive under other auspices.
Senior administration officials reported that H1B visas for tech-workers, H2B visas for low-skill jobs, H4 visas for spouses of foreign workers or certain visa holders, and J visas for those participating in work and student exchange and L visa for intra-company transfers are suspended.
The new order also prohibits the issuance of new Green-cards in addition to suspending the issuance of many of the worker visas.
The order will also likely have a great impact also on the American companies working with global operations and international companies with U.S. branches to transfer foreign executives and other employers to the United States for months or yearlong periods.
The officials also stated that Trump has also asked the Department of Homeland Security, State and Labor to work on regulations that will have a permanent impact, such as ending work permits for many asylum seekers and even ending the lottery system on an H1B visa.
In all, the White House projects that it would keep 525,000 foreign workers out of the country for the rest of the year and 525,000 American jobs will be saved or created by the executive order.
The effort to restrict the entry of foreigners into the United States was at the heart of one of the president’s key promises during the 2016 campaign and is certain to play a central role as Mr. Trump seeks to energize his core supporters during his re-election campaign this year.
This new policy is a big win for immigration hard-liners in the administration who have pushed to bring down the overall numbers of immigrants in the country for years, even before the pandemic.
This scenario is likely to meet backlash from the business community, which has lobbied against restricting the hiring pool for U.S. companies.
Stephen Miller, the White House aide and the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration policy, was busy for years to limit or eliminate the worker visas, arguing that they harm employment prospects for Americans. And in recent months, Mr. Miller has argued that the economic distress caused by the virus has made it even more important to turn off the spigot.
But the directive, which has been expected for several weeks, is fiercely opposed by business leaders, who say it will block their ability to recruit critically needed workers from countries overseas for jobs that Americans are not willing to do or are not capable of performing.
Todd Schulte, the President of FWD.us, a pro-immigration group supported by technology companies, said “This is a full-frontal attack on American innovation and our nation’s ability to benefit from attracting talent from around the world,”
“Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,” said Thomas J. Donohue, the chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation.”
Administration officials also said that President’s order would not affect people outside the United States who already have valid Visas or seasonal farmworkers, whose annual numbers have ranged from a low of about 50,000 to a high of about 250,000 in the past 15 years. There will also be narrow exceptions towards certain medical workers dealing specifically with coronavirus research.
In the order, Mr. Trump described the suspension of the visas as a way to ensure that Americans are first in line for scarce jobs — an assertion that immigration advocates say does not reflect the reality of a dynamic and changing workforce. Trump, in his reports, stated that “Under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”
Immigration restrictionists who have had the ear of the Trump administration applauded the announcement. Combined with recent measures, “the work visa suspensions will put the thumb on the labor market scale in favor of U.S. workers,” said Jessica Vaughan, the policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates curbing immigration.
“It’s really heartening to see the president stand up to the special interests that pull out the stops to lobby for these visa programs,” said Ms. Vaughan, who said she had been regularly consulted by White House aides on the issue.
“The government could try and fast-track that process by not allowing the public to weigh in on the changes before they go into effect, but it is difficult to see that process surviving court review,” said Lynden Melmed, an immigration lawyer and the former chief counsel of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In April, the president signed an executive order that suspended for 60 days the issuance of green cards to most foreigners looking to live in the United States. But at the time, Mr. Miller and the president bowed to pressure from the business community to avoid imposing limits on the worker visas.
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Critics say that the government has used the health crisis and the economic meltdown as a pretext to put restrictions on the immigration system. While Mr. Trump and his aides said the suspension of visas was in response to the pandemic, the administration has been pursuing the same broad reductions to legal immigration policies for years, including during times when unemployment was at its lowest in decades. In 2017, the president endorsed the RAISE Act, a Republican Senate bill that would have cut legal immigration, including business visas, by about 50 percent.
“It’s the largest crackdown on work visas that I have seen in my 35 years of practice,” said Steve Yale-Loehr, a Cornell law professor. “Thousands of businesses and universities will be hurt by these restrictions. Similarly, individuals will be stuck overseas unable to help the U.S. economy recover.”
As quoted on NBC News Digital, Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that “We are extremely concerned that such a broad prohibition on legal immigration, whether an individual is coming permanently or temporarily, will negatively impact our country’s ability to recover from a global health and economic crisis. “She also said, “While the government claims that limiting these individuals’ entry into the U.S. will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans, the reality is that the jobs that these foreign nationals would have held are ones that U.S. workers can’t or won’t fill.”
Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute, said there are legitimate concerns about some of the guest worker programs — including the ones for H-1B and J-1 visas. But she said the president’s proclamation will hurt U.S. companies that rely on foreign workers and not necessarily prompt them to hire American nationals.
“It’s definitely overdue that we have an examination of these programs and their effect on the U.S. job market, but that doesn’t mean that wholesale suspending them suddenly is going to be beneficial to U.S. workers — and it is certainly not going to be beneficial to employers,” Pierce told CBS News.
Using the coronavirus as the chief justification, the Trump administration is making major policy changes that would have been difficult to implement unilaterally before the pandemic, Pierce said.
“I don’t think that the administration would get away with this if it weren’t for the pandemic,” she said.
The director of immigration studies at the conservative Cato Institute, Alex Nowrasteh said: “The Trump administration has argued that it wants to create a merit-based immigration system that prioritizes educated immigrants with skills, with this suspension of the H-1B visa program, they have shown, once again, that they really mean they want fewer immigrants.”
“These immigration bans are more red meat and not jobs for the base,” said Rebecca Shi from the American Business Immigration Coalition in Chicago. “They don’t even serve Trump’s own business interests.”
Mr. Trump has used H-2B visas to hire seasonal staff for his resorts to work as cooks and waiters.
This decision has been opposed by many business leaders and American Companies as it will likely restrict them to hire and appoint the deserving candidates from foreign nationals, which American citizens are less suitable to take up.
Source: The New York Times