A big business lobby is pushing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand the H-2B visa, which already offers 66,000 blue-collar American jobs to cheaper, foreign laborers every year.
After House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 2017 budget gave DHS Secretary John Kelly the power to expand the H-2B visa program, now the financial interests that originally pushed for this measure are demanding the expansion, outsourcing up to 70,000 more blue-collar American jobs to foreign labor.
The H-2B visa is for non-agricultural, low-skilled seasonal work, supplying resorts, hotels and the seafood and landscaping industry with thousands of cheap, foreign employees.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and the H-2B Workforce Coalition are demanding Kelly expand the visa program in order to supply the business lobby with more help, without the hassle of having to recruit and hire Americans.
The pro-outsourcing financial groups were originally told by President Trump’s administration that they would not be able to meet with Kelly and DHS officials due to ethical issues. But, the groups are set to meet with DHS officials for a “stakeholder’s meeting,” which will also include opponents of the H-2B visa like NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
NALP executives released a statement urging their members to lobby Congress to help push the expansion of the H-2B visa.
“We understand how critically immediate cap-relief is needed,” NALP said in a statement. “Literally, every day that they do not act is another day that you are suffering and are at risk of shutting your doors due to lack of workers to fulfill your existing and potential landscape services. NALP continues to work aggressively on your behalf, but once again we need you to lend your voice to the fight.”
Most recently, four U.S. Senators sent a letter to Kelly, requesting that he not allow for the importation of more low-skilled foreign workers, as the program has undercut Americans’ wages and in some cases has left them displaced.
“A large body of evidence suggest[s] that our increasing reliance on the H-2B program cuts [Americans’] wages, pushes American workers out of jobs, and may, in some case, discourages them from every applying again,” the letter from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), David Perdue (R-GA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) stated, as Breitbart News reported.
In a previous Breitbart Texas report, stagnant wages coupled with an unemployment rate of more than 5 percent, counting unemployed Americans and those no longer looking for work, indicates the harm done by foreign guest worker programs like the H-2B visa.
Wages in the top 15 H-2B jobs in the U.S. have been stagnant or slightly decreased over the last decade, according to analysis by Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
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.