Thursday, May 11, 2017

NumbersUSA - Weekly Newsletter

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This Issue: Spending bill passes with H-2B increases intact, but how Trump Admin. responds remains to be seen

Fri, May 5th
Both the House and Senate passed an omnibus spending bill this week that will allow DHS Secretary John Kelly to more than double the cap on the H-2B, low-skilled foreign guest worker program for the rest of the fiscal year.
The bill gives the Administration full authority over the visa increase. We're hoping that the Administration will tell Congress "thanks, but no thanks" on the increase and remain true to Trump's campaign pledge to protect the jobs and wages of American workers.
While the spending bill is a setback for American workers -- especially those without a college degree who depend on the jobs filled by H-2B visa holders to earn a living -- it could have been worse. Many in Congress were pushing for a quadrupling of the number of visas, so the resistance with help from NumbersUSA activists provided enough pressure to reduce the increase.
The provision also requires Sec. Kelly to consult with the Department of Labor to ensure that there are not enough American workers to fill the jobs that would be filled by foreign workers. This is mostly an empty gesture, but again, Congressional Leaders felt compelled to at least give the appearance that they care about protecting low-skilled American workers.
We've graded Congress for their votes this week, and you can view updated gradecards here:
In advance of this week's votes, our Capitol Hill team sent the following message to all Members of Congress:
NumbersUSA is disappointed that the Omnibus, overall, does not support the President's immigration agenda. However, it is the provision (Sec. 543) that authorizes the Secretary of DHS to more than double the cap on H-2B temporary non-agricultural workers that leaves us no choice but to score against the bill.

Worse than the failure to support the agenda upon which the President was elected, this bill shows contempt for the forgotten Americans who suffered most during the recent recession. Not only is the H-2B program rife with abuse, just last year, the Economic Policy Institute reported that from 2004-2014, wages were stagnant or declining in all of the top 15 H-2B employment occupations. Further, unemployment rates increased in all but one of the top 15 H-2B occupations over the same time period, suggesting "a loose labor marketan oversupply of workers rather than an undersupply." It is shamefully ironic that the Honoring Investments In Recruiting And Employing American Veterans Act is being used as a tool to increase foreign workers.
Overall, the bill includes very few of Pres. Trump's immigration enforcement priorities. But it does include a significant increase in funding for Customs and Border Patrol of $2.3 billion (27% increase), and it provides $341 million to make improvements to existing fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But the bill also adds an extra layer of scrutiny to the 287(g) program (a partnership between federal immigration agents and local law enforcement), and it changes the way that H-2B employers can calculate wages, which could depress prevailing wages.
In reviewing Trump's first 100 days last week, I noted that the President had made some strong gains on enforcement and had taken some good first steps in protecting American workers from foreign workers. The omnibus bill continues to make some small gains on enforcement, but is a step back on legal immigration.

Here is a new one: Amid foreign worker shortage, businesses turn to local labor

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