WASHINGTON, May 7, (AP): The Trump administration plans to let an additional 30,000 foreigners return to the United States through September for seasonal work, a move that refl ects how the booming economy has complicated President Donald Trump’s hard-line efforts on immigration. Details of the plan were in a draft rule obtained by The Associated Press.
It would benefit oyster shucking companies, fisheries, loggers and seasonal hotels, including Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. All use the visas to hire migrants for temporary work they say Americans won’t do. The visas, known as H-2Bs, will go only to returning foreign workers who have had the visa before, over the past three budget years. Many go back to the same employers year after year. Those workers have had background checks, are trusted and are not likely to stay past their visa, officials said. US Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin taking applications from employers on behalf of the workers once the temporary rule is published in the Federal Register. That is expected Wednesday. The strong US economy has made it increasingly difficult for employers to find labor.
The number of seasonal visas has been capped at 66,000 per budget year. Some businesses and lawmakers say that limit is badly outdated, especially when the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 49 years .
Employers say they desperately need more labor, pitting businesses against people inside and outside the White House who say the visas take away American jobs. Trump has benefited from both seasonal workers and people working in the country illegally at his golf clubs. Within the White House, adviser Stephen Miller and others want to restrict immigration, including reducing visas for high-skilled workers and suspending or limiting entry to the US for individuals from countries with high rates of short-term visa overstays.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been working on his own overhaul for months, aiming for immigration and border security changes that Republicans can rally around heading into the 2020 presidential election. Trump had once railed against the flow of foreign workers and argued, despite conflicting evidence, that foreigners hurt American workers by competing for jobs and driving down wages. But Trump now says he favors more legal immigration because of economic gains on his watch.
Trump said in his State of the Union speech this year that he wanted people “to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” A spokeswoman for the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports restricting immigration, tweeted that Trump, with the temporary visa worker plan, was selling out to cheap foreign labor. But the National Thoroughbred Racing Association of Lexington, Kentucky, which represents scores of racetrack operators, owners, breeders and trainers, said many trainers “will no doubt qualify for these visas because of the labor shortage that is now the norm on racetrack backstretches,” according to the group’s president, Alex Waldrop.