U.S. Embassy in Guatemala/Wikimedia Commons
Citing a shortage of American labor, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would allow struggling businesses to hire more foreign, nonagricultural workers than current law allows.
The decision, announced on Monday, would grant up to 15,000 temporary foreign workers permission to work in the United States under the H-2B visa program. DHS will allow endangered businesses, who attest they are “likely to suffer irreparable harm” without H-2B workers, to qualify for visas.
According to DHS, the U.S. already reached its annual limit of 66,000 H-2B visas earlier in 2017. DHS Secretary John Kelly cited his congressionally granted authority to lift the visa cap and described the move as a way to help American businesses.
“As a demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap,” Kelly said.
NumbersUSA, an advocacy group favoring lower immigration levels, slammed DHS's decision as a betrayal of President Donald Trump's promise to put “American workers first.”
“Sec. Kelly's decision to increase H-2B foreign workers threatens to reverse the trend of reports emerging around the country of employers working harder and raising pay to successfully recruit more unemployed Americans for lower-skilled jobs,” NumbersUSA President and Founder Roy Beck said on Monday.
But according to the DHS and the Department of Labor, Americans haven't been willing or qualified enough to perform the available work.
“After consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly determined there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in [fiscal year] 2017,” DHS said on Monday.