WSJ: Families Lobby Government for Their Foreign ‘Au Pair’ Nannies

nanny / child care
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Families that import women for cheap and customized child care are denouncing President Donald Trump’s temporary curbs on the J-1 visas for au pairs, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Under the headline, “Au Pairs Ensnared by Work Visa Ban: Thousands of families counting on foreign nannies to help with child care find plans on hold following President Trump’s order,” the newspaper reported parents who decided that their fellow Americans could not provide adequate and cheap child care to their children:

Mrs. Baca ran the numbers: A full-time nanny in suburban Virginia would run her family about $45,000 a year. Hiring an au pair, Mrs. Baca estimated, would come closer to $29,000—comparable to her daughter’s day care.

The family settled on a 23-year-old college graduate from Colombia, who wanted to come to the U.S. to improve her English before starting a career in marketing. The Bacas wanted their au pair to teach their daughter Spanish. “It would give us a little bit more flexibility in our schedules, and she would get that bit of extra cultural impact that we’re missing in our very white community in Virginia,” Mrs. Baca said.

The au pair program helps brokers import roughly 20,000 young women for their customers. The families must provide free accommodation and meals but only $195 a week in wages to the foreign workers.

The Journal reported that the brokers’ customers are lobbying legislators to restart the foreign worker program:

Au pair agencies say a common misperception is that only wealthy families employ au pairs. Among the families that rely on the arrangement are two-earner couples who are health-care workers, military personnel, police officers and others who have unconventional, shift-based schedules, said Jodi McCoy, a regional manager for AuPairCare. Her clients are already making calls to policy makers, hoping the administration will change its mind when it reviews the proclamation this month.

The au pair program is just one corner of the giant J-1 visa program that allows companies to import cheap seasonal labor. For example, the J-1 program delivers 100,000 “Summer Work Travel” employees to Disney, Hilton, and other resort companies; foreign graduates to universities for laboratory jobs; and camp counselors to summer camps.

In turn, the J-1 program is one of many programs that suppress wages by importing roughly 1.3 million foreign graduates for white-collar jobs and roughly 400,000 foreign laborers for blue-collar jobs.

On June 22, President Donald Trump announced a popular bar on the entry of most foreign workers until at least January. The bar on J-1s, H-1Bs, H-2B, and L-1 visa workers is intended to help Americans find jobs amid the coronavirus crash, said Trump.

Trump also directed his deputies to rewrite regulations governing many of these visas, including the H-1Bs, the J-1s, and the H-2Bs.


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