U.S. temporary foreign worker programs, sometimes referred to as guest worker programs, have more than doubled in size in recent decades. More than nine hundred thousand visas were granted in 2018 [PDF], up from some four hundred thousand in 1994. The H1B, H2A, H2B, and H4 visas are the largest of these programs, noted in a recent report the Council of Foreign Relations.
President Trump signed last month an executive order limiting immigration into the U.S. for 60 days, but now the GOP representatives are asking the President to expand the restrictions to also cover temporary workers known as H2A and H2B visas. Recent polling shows Americans strongly stand behind restricting immigration into the country during this crisis. Nearly 80% of those polled said they favor a temporary pause on immigration into the United States, according to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll.
“My colleagues and I urge President Trump to suspend granting new guest worker visas for at least one year so that Americans are not forced to compete with foreign labor as our nation recovers,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told Fox News.
I asked President @realDonaldTrump to suspend granting any new guestworker visas, depending on the strength of the economy.
American workers appreciate the value President Trump has placed on them during his time in office & will appreciate this action. https://t.co/sW0ESn1Nj9
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) May 20, 2020
“As we respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is important that we continue to look out for their economic welfare,” Biggs said. “More than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment and, even as states and counties begin to reopen, jobs are scarce.”
Biggs is not the only GOP representative to ask for these measures. Texas republican congressman Lance Gooden also asked that the President expand the ban and include the guest workers. “Why on Earth would we keep guest worker programs running? Americans need these jobs!” said Gooden in a tweet last week.
36.5M jobless claims in just 2 months – this pandemic is devastating our workforce.
Why on Earth would we keep guest worker programs running?
Americans need these jobs!
— Lance Gooden (@Lancegooden) May 14, 2020
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) also tweeted that “Ending OPT is common sense and that OPT was not authorized by Congress…If there’s no U.S. labor shortage, then there’s no need for foreign guest workers.”
Ending OPT is common sense:
-OPT was not authorized by Congress
-Does not require payroll taxes which makes OPT cheaper & incentivizes employment discrimination against U.S. workers
-Has no # limit
-If there’s no U.S. labor shortage, then there’s no need for foreign guest workers
— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) May 20, 2020