President Trump’s halt of the J-1 visa program — where upper-middle-class and wealthy households are able to import cheap, foreign au pairs — is driving up wages and benefits for au pairs already in the United States, a report reveals.
Last month, Trump expanded an existing executive order to halt the H-1B, H-4, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visa programs — reducing foreign competition against roughly 35 million unemployed and underemployed Americans.
According to the New York Times, the halting of the program has meant higher wages and better benefits for au pairs already in the U.S. At current rates, households are allowed to pay their imported au pairs just $4.35 an hour for a maximum 45 hours a week.
That is all changing thanks to Trump’s order, the Times reported:
On the other end, while au pairs entering the program might speak with only two or three families in the initial interview process, in-country candidates are now hearing from 10, 20, sometimes closer to 50 prospective families. Even male au pairs, who often find it harder to match, are having an easy time. “Because they know they don’t have options, they are accepting males for their families too,” said an au pair from Brazil. “It’s not a big deal anymore.”
“Now we feel powerful,” the Colombian au pair said. “For once, we have a choice.”
Host families have taken note of the new dynamic, too: Perusing some Facebook groups in mid-June, I found posts announcing benefits like unlimited public transportation passes, new cars, access to beach houses and skydiving trips, and double the pay. “We’re offering a 2000 USD sign-on bonus,” one parent wrote.
The results have underscored the case many reformers have argued for years — that immigration plays a major role in depressing U.S. wages and benefits.
As the Times noted, there has been widely reported abuse in the J-1 visa program. For years, participants in the program have chronicled labor abuse that they have endured, often working overtime without pay and receiving subpar living conditions.
Most recently, the Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, claiming the J-1 visa program is “critical” to the American economy even as tens of millions are out of work.
In 2018, the J-1 visa program delivered more than 20,600 young people to upper-middle-class and wealthy households in the U.S. Nearly 60 percent of all foreign au pairs go to households in California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois, where there is a concentration of wealth.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.