GOP senators ask Trump to suspend guest worker visas for 60 days

Tribune Content Agency

Four GOP senators closely allied with President Donald Trump are urging him to suspend all new guest worker visas for 60 days, and to suspend other types of worker visas including those for advanced skills sought by the technology industry, until unemployment in the U.S. “has returned to normal levels.”

The senators, who include Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas, said that Trump’s April 22 order suspending most immigrant visas for 60 days doesn’t go far enough. While Trump suspended the issuing of new green cards for would-be U.S. permanent residents, they want visas affecting skilled workers, agriculture workers and others to face curbs.

“Given the extreme lack of available jobs for American job-seekers as portions of our economy begin to reopen, it defies common sense to admit additional foreign guest workers to compete for such limited employment,” wrote the senators, who also include Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

The letter was reported earlier by Politico.

The letter from some of the Senate’s most prominent immigration hard-liners could put new pressure on the president to expand his executive order, which drew criticism from business, civil rights and immigrant rights groups who said it would keep companies from hiring critical workers and could prevent family reunification.

The president said at the time there would be carve-outs for migrant agricultural workers, and promised to make it even easier for farmers rebounding from the coronavirus crisis to hire labor from other countries.

The order exempts individuals seeking to permanently enter the country as a medical professional or researcher, as well as members of the armed forces, those seeking asylum or refugee status, and children being adopted by American parents.

In their letter, the senators said Trump should go much further by suspending all new guest worker visas for 60 days.

“Exceptions to this suspension should be rare, limited to time-sensitive industries such as agriculture, and issued only on a case-by-case basis when the employer can demonstrate that they have been unable to find Americans to take the jobs,” they wrote.

After the 60 days, they said, Trump should continue to suspend new non-immigrant guest workers for one year or until U.S. unemployment returns to “normal levels.” That should include H-1B visas for highly skilled workers in the technology and other industries, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers and those in the Optional Practical Training Program that extends visas of foreign students after they graduate.

About three-quarters of H-1B visas go to people working in the technology industry, though the exact levels vary year by year.

They also called on Trump to suspend the EB-5 immigrant visa program “effective immediately,” calling it “plagued by scandal and fraud” and in need of reform. EB-5 visas allow immigrant investors to qualify for a green card by investing at least $900,000 in a business that will employ at least 10 Americans.


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