United States Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue says it is “crucial” that businesses be allowed to continue importing foreign visa workers even as 30 million Americans remain unemployed due to the Chinese coronavirus crisis.
Donahue sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that he not halt foreign visa worker programs — such as the H-1B visa, the L visa, the H-2B visa, and the OPT program — claiming businesses need the foreign workers to fill American jobs.
The latest jobs report, though, has shown there is no labor shortage, with about 30 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed.
The Chamber of Commerce writes:
As the economy rebounds, American businesses will need assurances that they can meet all their workforce needs. To that end, it is crucial that they have access to talent both domestically and from around the world. Policies that would, for example, impose wide-ranging bans on the entry of nonimmigrant workers or impose burdensome new regulatory requirements on businesses that employ foreign nationals would undermine that access to talent, and, in the process, undercut our economy’s ability to grow and create jobs. [Emphasis added]
Very similar concerns have been raised with respect to the effects that an entry ban would have on employers of H-1B visa holders. American businesses across multiple industries, including technology companies, accounting firms, manufacturers, among others, employ H-1B workers for the skill sets they possess that drive innovation and productivity gains within their own companies or for their clients. If companies cannot hire new H-1B workers or continue to employ their current H-1B workers, innovation and productivity growth, particularly that which is achieved through patent production, would suffer greatly to the detriment of our overall economy. Short-term disruptions in the L-1 and H-1B visa programs would hamper businesses’ ability to make long-term planning and domestic investment decisions. [Emphasis added]
In a given year, more than 100,000 foreign workers are brought to the U.S. on the H-1B visa and are allowed to stay for up to six years. There are about 650,000 H-1B visa foreign workers in the U.S. at any given moment.
Americans are often laid off in the process and forced to train their foreign replacements, as highlighted by Breitbart News. More than 85,000 Americans annually potentially lose their jobs to foreign labor through the H-1B visa program.
Donahue said the L-1 visa — a limitless program that allows corporations to bring as many foreign employees as they want to the U.S. for up to seven years. Likewise, Donahue said the H-2B visa program, which currently fast-tracks blue-collar foreign workers into American jobs, must be preserved amid mass unemployment.
The full letter can be read here:
Donahue also said the Trump administration must not scrap the OPT program and the H-4 visa program, even as a growing grassroots effort between American worker advocates, conservatives, and college student groups lobby the White House to reduce foreign labor market competition.
In May, 30 college student groups signed a letter to Trump asking him to halt H-1B visas and the OPT program — whereby corporations are able to hire foreign graduates at a discount — as many of them enter a worse jobs crisis since the Great Depression.
“You can make this right by ending the OPT program and suspending the H-1B program,” the students wrote. “Suspending all guest worker programs is ideal, but the OPT and H-1B schemes are especially egregious. We look forward to seeing what you do to help America’s college students and recent graduates.”
As Breitbart News exclusively reported, an original draft of the order included a suspension of E visas for foreign treaty traders and investors, B visas, H-1B and H-2B visas, J-1 visas for foreign exchange visitors, L visas for foreign employees, and O visas.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed this month that federal officials will allow travel admission of H-1B foreign visa workers in India. Meanwhile, corporations like Facebook, Apple, and Amazon have been given extensions for their H-1B employees by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Already, GOP lawmakers Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have asked Trump to halt foreign visa worker programs.
Every year, the U.S. admits about 1.2 million legal immigrants on green cards to permanently resettle in the country. In addition, another 1.4 million foreign workers are admitted every year to take American jobs.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.