Democratic and GOP legislators in the House and Senate are trying to import additional cheap H-2B seasonal workers, just as voters’ wages are poised to grow before November, according to industry advocates.
North Carolina GOP Sen. Thom Tillis is asking for 24,000 additional imported H-2B seasonal workers — above the 66,000 allowed by law — while Maryland GOP Rep. Andy Harris is seeking 54,000 extra workers, according to sources. They are being backed by many other GOP and Democratic legislators, including Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.
Under Tillis’ plan, additional H-2B workers would be assigned to companies working to repair hurricane damage in Florida and Houston, Texas, so reducing the companies’ need to recruit Americans.
The push for imported cheap labor reflects the dominant role of local employers and donors in Capitol Hill backrooms — despite the GOP’s growing need for a high turnout in November.
According to ClubandResortBusiness.com:
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) has been negotiating with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to include a provision in the upcoming spending bill that increases the number of H-2B visas. The language mirrors language used in a 2017 spending bill that gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the discretion to authorize more visas [to 120,000]. This year, the provision would make issuing more visas mandatory, the NCA reported …
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) has been working with the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), to craft a path forward for H-2B visa workers. Chairman Grassley is less interested in an actual increase in guest worker visas, so Tillis has suggested that there be a modest increase in the H-2B visa cap to 90,000. In addition, Tillis has included a bump in the number of H-2B visa workers for hurricane and natural disaster relief work over the next two years.
This disaster relief portion of the bill has caught the eye of Chairman Grassley, and because of it he is willing to accept the permanent increase to the H-2B visa cap. Though Tillis’ proposal is less than Harris’ proposal in the House, it still increases the H-2B visa cap.
Employers are denouncing the Tillis increase of 24,000 as too small:
Sir is there going to be an exemption for the disaster states? ONLY 24000 additional visas is like a 🍴 in the gut! @SpeakerRyan @JimInhofe @RepMullin @TomColeOK04 @RepFrankLucas @SenatorLankford @RepJBridenstine #SaveH2B #RETURNINGWORKEREXEMPTION
— Alan Roark (@AlanRoark) March 16, 2018
If only 24,000? more #h2b visas are available for the 2018 season that would be heart wrenching to know that businesses would be closing as a result or have to be forced to hire illegal immigrants. Either way it’s a lose/lose. Let’s pray it doesn’t come to that.@SenatorLeahy
— Tony Cardone (@TonyCardone19) March 16, 2018
Tillis’ office did not respond to questions from Breitbart News.
The H-2B program is limited by status to 66,000 foreign workers per year.
In 2015 and 2017, Ryan worked with Democrats and Republicans to expand the number of H-2B visas above 66,000 — although he backed away from the cheap-labor program after President Donald Trump’s shocking victory in 2016 on a high-wage/low-immigration platform.
Amid bipartisan pressure, aided by Tillis and Ryan, the 2017 cap was raised to 81,000. The cap for 2018 has reverted to the statutory level of 66,000 amid the bipartisan budget impasse. But that 2018 cap will rise for the rest of 2018 if the Harris or Tillis language is included in the 2018 omnibus bill, planned for completion March 23.
Each year, most of the annual allotment of H-2B visas are snapped up by landscaping companies in high population zones. Many are also snagged by restaurants and hotels in lower-population summer or winter resorts, and some are taken by seafood processors in Maryland and shrimp boats in the Gulf of Mexico. Many also work as janitors or construction workers. Most H-2B workers are from Mexico.
Companies argue that few Americans want to take summer seasonal work because they would be left unemployed in winter unless they also moved long distances to take seasonal work in ski resorts. The cost of hiring Americans for those jobs would bump up contract prices and reduce the number of customers, companies argue.
This demand for temporary foreign workers is paired with the immigration debate, where many GOP and Democratic legislators use the immigration laws to deliver cheap workers to their local business supporters. For example, South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters January 21 that he is trying to bring in more people for low-wage jobs:
We need more legal immigration … I don’t want green cards just for computer engineers. If you are out there working in the fields, if you are a construction worker, I want some of those people to have a way to stay here, because if you are running a business and you have a guest worker who is really good, and would add value to our country, I want them to have a chance to get a green card. I just don’t want to be a country in the future of just computer engineers or high-tech people.
But the H-2B program skews the labor market in favor of the employers, and it minimizes their cost of recruiting, training and paying Americans for seasonal work.
The program also means the companies are under less incentive to find, hire and train the sidelined Americans — or the high-school youths — who lack the social networks to help them move out of high-unemployment rural areas. Also, the program means lower-skilled Americans have less incentive to take jobs at these companies.
The policy also means that the companies can pay lower wages to year-round staff, such as the foremen and managers who will vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
H-2B visas provide a win/win solution to seasonal labor needs. These men have reliably worked and returned year after year. Once again, a deficient bureaucracy threatens many jobs – including our full-time American workers. #SaveH2B pic.twitter.com/b2XBHe6OBC
— Mike Leman (@SingingHillsInc) March 14, 2018
@SenToomey PA Landscaper needs H-2B cap relief now- we can't fulfill our 2018 contracts without it! Unemployment is so low we received just 1 job application in 3 months of advertising. Thanks for fighting to #SaveH2B in the Omnibus appropriations!
— Butler Landscaping (@ButlerLandscp) March 14, 2018
Four million Americans turn 18 each year and begin looking for good jobs in the free market.
But the federal government inflates the supply of new labor by annually accepting roughly 1.1 million new legal immigrants, by providing work-permits to roughly 3 million resident foreigners, and by doing little to block the employment of roughly 8 million illegal immigrants.
The H-2B workers are guest workers who are expected to return home when their visa ends. Nationwide, the resident population of foreign guest workers includes roughly 1.5 million university-trained guest workers, such as L-1s and H-1Bs.
The Washington-imposed strategy of economic growth via cheap-labor mass-immigration shifts wealth from young people towards older people and to investors.
The strategy floods the labor market with foreign labor, spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also drives up real estate prices, widens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.