Posted on April 1, 2019

Latest Trump H-2B Increase Again Betrays American Workers

Preston Huennekens, Center for Immigration Studies, March 29, 2019

In April 2017, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 18837 — a directive to “Buy American and Hire American”. The order signaled the president’s intent to defend the interests of American workers, one of his key campaign promises. Some of his supporters were less-skilled and less-educated voters who shared his concerns that widespread immigration (and foreign guestworker programs) would shrink their job prospects. {snip}


{snip} Instead of reforming the guestworker system, Trump has allowed it to flourish. In its latest action, the Department of Homeland Security announced today that it is raising the 2019 H-2B cap by 30,000. The additional visas are available to H-2B guestworkers who previously worked in the United States within the past three years.

{snip} I’ve explained before how the H-2B program is a raw deal for Americans, and I highlight those points below:

Despite these problems, the Trump administration has repeatedly increased the number of H-2B visas. There is a statutory annual cap of 66,000, but in 2017 and 2018, the DHS secretary permitted “temporary” one-time increases of 15,000 more guestworkers, as authorized by Congress. {snip} In February 2019, Trump signed a spending bill that allows the DHS secretary to raise to H-2B cap to as high as 135,000. This would be an alarming increase that contradicts the president’s stated priorities.

Today’s decision increases the H-2B cap by “only” 30,000, rather than the full 67,000 Congress authorized, but this surge nonetheless increases the cap to 96,000. Not even under President Obama did H-2B visas rise to such high levels, as the table below shows:

President Trump continues to increase the number of H-2B guestworkers every time he has the opportunity. This is entirely his own administration’s fault. He could, at any time, direct Secretary Nielsen to not increase the cap. {snip}

[Editor’s Note: Be sure to see the table that accompanies the original story.]