A trades union representing American blue-collar construction workers says a plan to expand the H-2B low-skilled foreign guest worker visa is “directly counter” to President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” agenda.
The budget, promoted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, will allow Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to expand the number of foreign workers who come to the U.S. for blue-collar jobs by at least 20,000.
The H-2B visa brings foreign nationals to the U.S. for low-skilled nonagricultural jobs. The visa impacts working-class and poor Americans most, as jobs in the hotel industry, theme parks, retail, and restaurants can insource jobs to foreign workers under the program. H-2B visa workers filled more than half a million jobs in the U.S. in the past five years.
The North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) is denouncing the plan, saying it will further undercut blue-collar American workers and the security of their jobs.
“This maneuver runs directly counter to President’s Trump’s recent executive actions to ‘buy American and hire American,’ and which were specifically crafted to instruct the Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State to take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse in our immigration system in order to protect workers in the United States and their economic conditions,” NABTU officials said in a statement.
“The H-2B visa was conceived as a low-skilled, guest worker program that is meant to be used by employers to fill seasonal and temporary jobs, but which has now been all too often used by unscrupulous employers in the construction industry as a means to exploit guest workers and drive down community wage and benefit standards,” the organization continued. “The many horrific abuses within the H-2B program have long been documented, and NABTU has repeatedly sought reforms to address the shortcomings in the law that have enabled these abuses to continue unabated.”
NABTU argues that the language in the omnibus spending bill, passed by the House, does not “address” or “reform” the problems within the H-2B visa system, saying “it doubles down on bad policy which will have the effect of further jeopardizing the jobs, wages and benefits of American construction workers, while ensuring that guest workers remain vulnerable to abuse.”
The H-2B expansion slipped into the spending bill came as a treat to the big business and open borders lobbies, who through the H-2B Workforce Coalition organization, successfully lobbied Congress to expand the number of low-skilled foreign workers who can enter the U.S. every year, as Breitbart Texas reported.
Breitbart Texas reported how American wages are struggled to increase in professions covered by the H-2B visa.
For instance, for landscaping and grounds-keeping jobs given to H-2B foreign workers, wages decreased by 3.4 percent between 2004 and 2014. For jobs in the amusement and recreation industry, which also employs a multitude of H-2B foreign workers, wages between 2004 and 2014 fell by 1.3 percent.
Overall, in the top 15 industries that employ H-2B foreign workers, wages increased in the last decade by 1.8 percent.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.