Posted on May 23, 2020

The Party’s Over — No More Guest(worker)s

Mark Krikorian, National Review, May 23, 2020

Last month’s Presidential Proclamation temporarily suspending a tiny sliver of permanent immigration in response to Great Depression 2.0 also called for a review of the alphabet soup of foreign-worker programs. The relevant cabinet departments were instructed to offer recommendations “to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.”

Those recommendations were to be delivered to the White House this week and a follow-up proclamation is expected soon.

My staff put together a list of 20 steps the president should take immediately to limit work visas and work permits, plus several regulatory changes that require going through the notice-and-comment process.


Despite this, I don’t have high expectations for the Presidential Proclamation on guestworkers. Media fairy tales notwithstanding, Steven Miller doesn’t single-handedly determine administration immigration policy. In fact, with regard to foreign-worker programs, White House policy seems mainly to be formulated by former lobbyists and libertarians. Former Jeb Bush operative Derek Lyons, another influential figure on immigration in the White House, is reported to have warned the president, when he tweeted that he wanted to temporarily suspend immigration due to the Wuhan coronavirus, “Tim Cook isn’t going to like this.”

In fact, I fear that the proclamation will be merely cosmetic, protecting the rice bowls of employers who’ve built businesses on the expectation of unfettered access to cheap indentured labor, while including some meaningless incentives to encourage the hiring of some of the tens of millions of Americans thrown out of work (and millions of new graduates entering the job market). I hope to be proven wrong.