Brian Mark Weber / October 9, 2020

The President Keeps a Promise on Immigration

By making it more costly to employ foreign workers, Trump puts Americans first.

Donald Trump’s big issue during the 2016 presidential campaign was immigration. In fact, many political observers believe his tough stance propelled him into the White House. So why is almost no one talking about it in 2020?

On Monday, June 22, the president took another significant step in the right direction. He issued an executive order declaring, in part, that “temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers” and “under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”

As Fox News reported at the time, “The order may not have a noticeable effect immediately as routine visa services have been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the administration estimates that the order will affect around 600,000 jobs before Dec. 31.” Furthermore, “As the election season moves forward, it is also a move that is likely to motivate Trump’s base who have urged him to stick to his promise of putting ‘America First.’ But it is also likely to re-stoke criticism from Democrats that Trump is running on an anti-immigrant agenda.”

The president’s proclamation was well received by Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “For the most part,” Stein said, “the president withstood intense pressure from powerful business interests that continue to demand more cheap foreign labor, even as they have laid-off an unprecedented number of American workers over the past three months.”

Since that executive order, however, President Trump has talked little about the immigration issue other than broad references to building the border wall.

That all changed this week.

“The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a new rule designed to make it much more expensive to employ an H-1B visa holder,” writes Stuart Anderson at Forbes. “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new regulation to limit H-1B visas by introducing restrictive definitions of a specialty occupation and an employer-employee relationship, and limiting H-1B approvals to one year for work at customer locations.” He adds, “Memos and executive orders can be withdrawn, but regulations are more difficult to unwind. That is another reason for the rush to publish new H-1B rules toward the end of the administration’s fourth year.”

The changes are welcomed by critics of our nation’s H-1B visa policy, which they argue has been abused by companies and industries that seek to keep wages low.

As expected, there are some exemptions, including those for healthcare and agricultural workers, but the overall scope of the new order is significant and will allow Americans struggling in the COVID economy to get back to work.

It’s not a surprise that Democrats oppose the measure, but so do some businesses who claim to rely on foreign workers to fill openings. But, truth be told, those businesses also like paying cheaper wages to H-1B workers. The new rules have addressed this issue, making sure Americans seeking work here at home have a fair shot at landing a job.

One of the challenges going forward, of course, is that executive orders and proclamations don’t have the staying power of legislation. And with President Trump currently behind in the polls, there’s no doubt these orders will be revoked by a Biden administration. That’s why the regulatory steps taken by Homeland Security and the Department of Labor are so important.

In any case, it’s good to know that President Trump is, once again, keeping his promises and putting American workers first.

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