The Trump administration has kicked off what the White House has billed as “Made in America” week by expanding the number of visas issued to foreign workers in seasonal jobs by 15,000, saying it determined that there were not enough “qualified and willing U.S. workers” to fill those positions.
In a statement, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had consulted with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and determined “there are not enough qualified and willing US workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.”
Congress had previously set an annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas, which are meant for temporary non-agricultural employment, for the 2017 fiscal year.
“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary workers,” Kelly said in a statement.
“As a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”
The Independent notes:
Among those businesses are Mr Trump’s resorts and hotel properties. Between 2013 and 2015, his Mar-a-Lago property – also known as the “Winter White House” – employed 246 workers on the H-2B visa.
Since 2000, Mr Trump received 1,024 H-2B visas for his businesses for waiters, kitchen, and housekeeping staff, according to a CNN report. In the past, Mr Trump claimed he had to hire foreign workers for Mar-a-Lago because American workers were not available during busy tourist seasons in Florida.
In February, Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Florida resort, announced it would hire 64 workers under the program, reports The Hill.
DHS officials are billing the extra visas as being in line with the Trump administration’s “Made in America” week, arguing: “This does help with American businesses continuing to prosper,” one said.
A 2015 Buzzfeed report showed that many businesses prefer to hire foreign guest workers over Americans to cut costs and limit legal liability.
“Sec. Kelly’s decision to increase H-2B foreign workers threatens to reverse the trend of reports emerging around the country of employers working harder and raising pay to successfully recruit more unemployed Americans for lower-skilled jobs,” said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, an organization that advocates for reduced immigration.