President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday evening to expand his coronavirus-related immigration restrictions, according to USA Today.
The president moved ahead with long-anticipated limits on guest worker visas set to last until the end of 2020, in a win for American workers as well as his own political base.
Trump suspends visas
The president’s decision follows an order in April that, according to The Washington Post, targeted green cards, but did not restrict nonimmigrant visas like those obtained through the H-1B program, which covers thousands of foreign tech workers.
Trump’s original order was met with disappointment from immigration hawks in Trump’s base, who expected a broader ban after Trump vowed to halt all immigration into America, citing the disruptions of the coronavirus. But as that order was set to expire, Trump is now renewing and expanding it, according to The Hill.
This latest executive order halts additional nonimmigrant visas, including H-1B visas, H-2B visas for seasonal workers, H-4 visas for the spouses of H-1B recipients, L visas for executive transfers, and J visas for those in “an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program.”
The adjustment will remain in effect until Dec. 31, with some exceptions for guest workers “essential to the United States food supply chain” or otherwise considered critical to the national interest. It does not apply to those already in America or H-2A farm workers, The Hill notes.
“Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy. But 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,” the new order reads.
Big business slams move
According to Fox News, the Trump administration has estimated that the new policy could create some 600,000 jobs for Americans. The news heartened immigration hawks, who argue that the programs like H-1B enable employers to exploit cheap foreign labor and avoid hiring American workers and claim that it makes no sense to grant nonimmigrant visas while Americans struggle to land on their feet in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns.
“President Trump has repeatedly promised to put American workers first, and to his credit, he did just that,” Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said, according to Fox.
But big business groups and tech companies say that the programs are necessary to fill the jobs Americans supposedly won’t do and to keep America economically competitive, common talking points employed by such special interests to justify the exploitation of American workers and their foreign replacements.
“Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas J. Donohue said in a statement, as The Hill noted.
Despite these criticisms, this move will free up critical jobs as Americans weather the worst economic downturn in generations. It’s just common sense, but good on President Trump for finally making it happen.