The Trump Organization is among the businesses that use the visas.
Despite President Trump’s vow to put American workers first, the administration on Monday announced that it will allow an additional 15,000 low-wage, seasonal workers into the United States during the remainder of the fiscal year.
The H-2B visas are designed for non-agricultural workers for jobs in a variety of business, including fisheries, construction, hotels, restaurants and resorts. The Trump Organization is among the businesses that use the visas, including workers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
The U. S. grants up to 33,000 such visas every six months, meaning the additional visas will provide a 45% increase for the second half of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Trump’s “America First” strategy resonated deeply with his populist base throughout the campaign, and it became a central component of his domestic agenda as president.
In April, he ordered his agencies to reform the H-1B visa program, which is used by technology companies to recruit highly-educated foreign workers. At the time, Trump said the program was being abused to import cheaper foreign workers who undercut the wages of American workers.
That argument explains why some supporters of Trump’s immigration policies were shocked by Monday’s seeming reversal.
Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration, said American workers are just starting to see the benefits of Trump’s restrictive immigration policies, including higher salaries because they have fewer foreign workers to compete against. The new visas, he said, would halt that progress.
“This is yet another example of the administration and Congress failing to keep the Trump campaign promise of putting American workers first, ” Beck said.
The Department of Homeland Security challenged that assessment, arguing that the additional foreign workers are needed to save American companies that can’t find enough labor and could go out of business without the help.
“We’ re talking about American businesses that are at risk of suffering irreparable harm if they don’ t get additional H-2B workers, so we do think that fits into the ‘America first’ focus of the administration, ” Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told reporters on Monday.
The visa expansion was first approved by Congress, which authorized the administration to add up to 70,000 additional H-2B visas. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N. C., helped lead the charge and applauded Monday’s announcement.
“As President Trump has noted, the H-2B program is vital for businesses that desperately need temporary help to keep their doors open and keep their American workforce employed, ” Tillis said.
Homeland Security said it would post the official notice of the additional visas in the Federal Register later this week.