President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Monday that temporarily blocked foreign workers' entry into the US on certain visas – including the sought-after H-1B visa for skilled workers – until the end of the year.
The proclamation is the latest in Trump's series of crackdowns on legal immigration during the coronavirus pandemic. The move, which will affect hundreds of thousands of people who wanted to come to the United States, is necessary, according to a senior government official, as the pandemic has left Americans with surprisingly high unemployment.
The proclamation, which comes into force on June 24 at 00:01 a.m.CET, will prevent foreigners from entering the US through a variety of visa categories, including H-1B visas that the tech industry has relied on as well as the H-4 visa for the spouses of the H-1B recipients. This would similarly restrict foreigners who switch to the US offices of their multinationals, including business people, on an L visa. some scientists and individuals participating in cultural and work exchanges on J-1 visas; and contract workers in non-agricultural industries with H-2B visas.
"Under normal circumstances, properly managed temporary employment programs can benefit the economy," Trump wrote in the proclamation. "In the exceptional circumstances of the economic downturn resulting from the COVID 19 outbreak, certain visa programs that authorize such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers."
There are a few important exceptions to the proclamation: it does not affect immigrants who are already in the U.S., existing visa holders, contract workers in the food industry, healthcare workers, and researchers fighting Covid-19. However, the restrictions would still affect hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
However, the proclamation could not immediately change the status quo, as many US consulates that process overseas visa applications remain closed due to the pandemic. The closures have led to a sharp drop in visa issuance in recent months.
The pandemic has long sought Trump's way of introducing restrictions on legal immigration. He has effectively stopped processing asylum at the southern border and temporarily blocked the issuing of new green cards for 60 days. He will extend this ban on green cards until the end of the year, the official said on Monday.
The official said the recent proclamation would create approximately 525,000 jobs for Americans. However, it is not clear whether companies will be able to fill these positions with American workers with the necessary skills and experience. Many employers face the challenge of filling vacancies that require special skills, especially in MINT areas where they exist well documented labor shortages This help drive economic expansion and create jobs for local workers.
The proclamation could therefore create uncertainty for employers faced with a legitimate gap in their workforce and for the Americans who employ them.
"This arrangement is economically unfounded," said David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Libertarian Cato Institute, in a statement. "It will hurt recovery and the US workers. Foreign workers create demand for other better jobs for US workers in other economic sectors. Limiting migration will not reduce unemployment, but it will hurt American companies struggling to survive that employ both Americans and immigrants. "
Additional regulatory changes to legal immigration
The Trump administration is also weighing a number of additional changes to legal immigration through regulation.
The official said the government is finalizing a rule that would refuse work permits to asylum seekers who cross the U.S. border without permission. For asylum seekers who cannot afford to be unemployed and who are not entitled to most public benefits, this means that they either have to give up their asylum applications in the United States entirely or have to work under the table in the informal economy.
Trump also plans to cancel work permits for people who have been deported or committed crimes in the U.S. that involve approximately 50,000 people annually, the official said.
Trump is pursuing reforms of the H-1B Visa program, in which demand consistently exceeds the supply of visas. More than 85,000 immigrants receive an H-1B visa for skilled workers each year. including more than 1,000 each for employees of technology giants like Google and Amazon. Recipients are currently being selected by lottery, but Trump suggests instead prioritizing the highest-paid workers and increasing the program's minimum wage requirements.
He also suggests banning the issue of H-1Bs Outsourcing company These employees, especially from India, receive these visas to fill IT positions – and sometimes to expel American employees. A practice that both parties' legislators agree should be banned through reforms. The largest of these companies, Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, consistently receive more H-1Bs than even the largest US technology companies.
However, implementing these regulatory changes can take months, if not years. And Trump may not have time to make these changes if former vice president Joe Biden, the alleged democratic candidate, wins the fall presidential election.
The intense debate about H-1Bs and why they are suspended is not contributing to the economic recovery
The H-1B program is a pipeline for foreign talent, particularly in the fields of computer science, engineering, education and medicine. The program has its shortcomings, but shutting down is unlikely to help the vast majority of jobseekers in this crisis.
The application process for H-1B visas is expensive and costs around $ 10,000 per employee, which is usually paid by an employer. But without these visas, many companies argue that they would have difficulty filling jobs that require special skills or degrees. The business world has therefore campaigned for Congress in recent years to increase the cap on H-1B visas.
While many companies face a legitimate shortage in their workforce and pay fair wages to their skilled foreign workers, some employers have used H-1B to fill positions cheaply – sometimes at the expense of American workers.
According to federal guidelines, the H-1B program should not "adversely affect" Americans' wages and working conditions. The question of whether H-1B workers are generally underpaid and lower American wages has proven difficult to answer. spur disagreement among researchers. However, it is clear that employers could actually use the H-1B program to displace Americans.
Most employers do not have to demonstrate that they have advertised a job for Americans and that there are no qualified Americans available to fill the position before hiring an H-1B worker. This has enabled companies from Disney to the electricity company Southern California Edison to the manufacturer of the coronavirus antibody test Abbott Labs Dismiss US workers and replace them with lower-salary H-1B workers – in some cases, even order US workers to train their replacement workers.
However, experts say that changing the program to ensure that foreign workers do not oust Americans is preferable to terminating them. Legislators from both parties have been trying to reform the H-1B program for over a decade, including Sens. Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley. Your recent bill reflects much of Trump's proposed regulatory changes to the H-1B program. It is limited to outsourcing companies that rely on H-1Bs and ensures that companies must look for qualified American candidates before hiring H-1B employees Prioritizing high-earners.
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