Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf announced he will allow American businesses to import an additional 35,000 foreign workers to take non-agricultural jobs through the H-2B visa program.
Every year, U.S. companies are allowed to import 66,000 low-skilled H-2B foreign workers to take blue-collar, non-agricultural jobs. For some time, the H-2B visa program has been used by businesses to bring in cheaper, foreign workers and has contributed to blue-collar Americans having their wages undercut.
On Thursday, Wolf confirmed that DHS will ensure American businesses can hire an additional 35,000 H-2B foreign visa workers for non-agricultural jobs in the fishing, construction, hospitality, and restaurant industries.
Wolf said of the extra 35,000 foreign workers that 10,000 will be from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras “to stem the flow of illegal migration in the region and encourage lawful migration to the U.S.”
The decision to add more foreign workers to the already inflated U.S. labor market, Wolf said, is “intended” to benefit American businesses and American workers, though the latter was not explained.
Overall, two batches of foreign workers will be available to American businesses, with 20,000 foreign workers available at the beginning of April and 15,000 foreign workers available on May 15.
This is the fourth consecutive year that President Trump’s DHS has approved more foreign workers to be imported by American businesses through the H-2B visa program. Wolf’s decision follows the same direction that former DHS Secretaries Kevin McAleenan, Kirstjen Nielsen, and John Kelly implemented.
Wolf’s announcement comes with new measures to “reduce fraud and abuse” in the H-2B visa program, which a handful of Republican and Democrat senators have warned against expanding.
The H-2B visa program has been widely used by businesses to drag down the wages of American workers in landscaping, conservation work, the meatpacking industry, the construction industry, and fishing jobs, a 2019 study from the Center for Immigration Studies finds.
When comparing the wages of H-2B foreign workers to the national wage average for each blue-collar industry, about 21 out of 25 of the industries offered lower wages to foreign workers than Americans.
In the construction industry, wage suppression is significant, with H-2B foreign workers being offered more than 20 percent less than their American counterparts. In the fishing industry, foreign workers were offered more than 30 percent less for their jobs than Americans in the field, and in the meatpacking industry, foreign workers got 23 percent less pay in wages than Americans.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.