Trump Bucks GOP Establishment, Donor Class with Halt on Foreign Visa Worker Programs

US President Donald Trump speaks after touring Snap-On Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin, April 18, 2017, prior to signing the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump bucked the political establishment in his own party and the donor class, siding with American workers, by halting a series of foreign visa worker programs.

On Monday, Trump expanded an executive order to halt the H-1B, H-4, H-2B, L-1, L-2, and J-1 visa programs while more than 40 million Americans are unemployed and underemployed.

Altogether, along with regulatory reforms to asylum loopholes and the H-1B visa program, the move is expected to free up about 600,000 U.S. jobs for Americans that would have otherwise have been filled by foreign visa workers.

Trump, though, did not have the backing of the Republican establishment or the GOP’s donor class, who are clustered in the Koch Brothers’ network of organizations.

In May, when more than 36 million Americans were jobless, a group of 47 House and Senate Republicans begged Trump to keep the foreign visa worker pipelines open and to expand legal immigration to give business even more leverage in hiring foreign workers over Americans.

The lawmakers included these nine Republican Senators:

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Sen. James Risch (R-ID)
  • Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
  • Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)

As well as these 38 House Republicans:

  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)
  • Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI)
  • Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA)
  • Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH)
  • Rep. David Joyce (R-OH)
  • Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)
  • Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA)
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI)
  • Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO)
  • Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
  • Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH)
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC)
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
  • Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD)
  • Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA)
  • Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI)
  • Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
  • Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC)
  • Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
  • Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
  • Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA)
  • Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)
  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R-MD)
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
  • Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
  • Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA)
  • Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)
  • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA)
  • Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
  • Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT)
  • Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
  • Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI)
  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY)
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
  • Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI)
  • Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL)
  • Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)

A minority of eight House and Senate Republicans — including Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Ted Cruz (R-TX); and Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — sided with Trump in calling for less immigration to ensure unemployed Americans are given job priority over foreign visa workers.

“With so many Americans out of work, there’s no reason to bring in more foreign guest workers to take the few available jobs,” Cotton wrote in a statement. “Companies ought to hire Americans at decent wages instead of shipping in competitors from overseas.”

Trump also defied the Republican Party’s donor class, which includes the Chamber of Commerce and the billionaire Koch Brothers network.

Earlier this month, the Koch-funded Libre Initiative and Americans for Prosperity organizations asked Trump to increase legal immigration levels even amidst mass unemployment.

“To ensure a speedy economic recovery, we respectfully request that this administration refrain from suspending, restricting, or imposing additional barriers on non-immigrant visa programs, and the legal immigration system writ large,” the Koch groups wrote in their letter.

The order puts Trump squarely on the same side as registered Republicans and swing state voters, rather than an increasingly isolated political establishment, ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

This month, majorities in 10 swing states — Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Maine, and Minnesota — said overall immigration should be reduced while tens of millions of Americans are jobless.

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. Often, Americans are fired and replaced by foreign visa workers. Many are forced to train their foreign replacements.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder


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