President Trump has signed a proclamation to limit the number of immigrants entering the United States between now and the end of the year. Unlike his previous proclamation on Green Card applications being suspended for 60 days, this new effort bites deep into the heart of the sacred immigration cow.
It impacts H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visas, and is aimed at providing a bounce-back platform for American workers in the wake of the COVID-19 jobs massacre. The president writes:
“… between February and April of 2020, more than 17 million United States jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B nonimmigrant visas. During this same period, more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions.”
Details, Details, Details…
Arguing that American workers should get the first bite of the apple as the country seeks to recover from the massive Coronavirus job losses, the president targets employment-based visa categories. The relevant section reads:
Sec. 2. Suspension and Limitation on Entry. The entry into the United States of any alien seeking entry pursuant to any of the following nonimmigrant visas is hereby suspended and limited, subject to section 3 of this proclamation:
(a) an H-1B or H-2B visa, and any alien accompanying or following to join such alien;
(b) a J visa, to the extent the alien is participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and any alien accompanying or following to join such alien; and
(c) an L visa, and any alien accompanying or following to join such alien.
While this move will undoubtedly provide employment opportunities for Americans struggling to recover from the economic devastation of COVID-19, prominent voices aired their displeasure.
Twitter, recently embroiled in controversy over its attitude toward the president’s tweets, was quick off the mark to criticize. Its Public Policy account wrote:
“This proclamation undermines America’s greatest economic asset: its diversity. People from all over the world come here to join our labor force, pay taxes, and contribute to our global competitiveness on the world stage.”
This is a view that will likely get a lot of airtime in the coming days. However, a senior administration official speaking with Fox News said that the idea of businesses being hurt by restricted immigration was not one suitable to the present predicament:
“That’s a tired, retired talking point that one could arguably debate in a pre-COVID world, but post-COVID where there are a lot of Americans looking to get back, looking to rebound, there are plenty of job opportunities there and companies should look there first … No one brings sand to the beach, there are a lot of good American workers so why are you bringing in foreign workers that, at this moment in time, aren’t necessary.”
Unlike other policies, pundits will be able to measure the success or failure of this proclamation in real-time. With millions of Americans seeking new job opportunities or a return to old ones, the viewing public will be able to witness unemployment numbers as they rise or fall on a weekly basis.
President Trump has cast the die on a move that could spell not only success for the tens of millions in need of a paycheck, but also for his election campaign. Immigration, jobs, the economy, they are all a numbers game. Time will tell if Trump has picked his lucky numbers.
Read more from Mark Angelides.