Under the Guise of Good Faith, Trump Suspends Certain Work Visas

On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation restricting the admission of foreign nationals in various nonimmigrant categories, including H1B, L-1 and H2B. This executive order has since been criticized by Silicon Valley executives, U.S. professors, and a slew of other individuals and organizations who recognize the importance of foreign nationals, especially during the sudden global recession in which we find ourselves. Prior to its implementation, the suspension even stirred discord within the President’s affiliated party. In May, nine Republican senators wrote a letter to the President explaining the importance of nonimmigrant visa programs, in response to a letter from four Republican senators arguing the opposite.

Overall, this proclamation is evidence of President Trump’s intention to pit foreign nations against U.S. workers. The proclamation perpetuates a fantasy that U.S. citizens and permanent residents are competing with highly skilled immigrants for a handful of positions. This deception is especially apparent when President Trump claims excess labor supply is particularly harmful to “‚ĶAfrican Americans and other minorities, those without a college degree, and Americans with disabilities.”

The H1B nonimmigrant visa category is largely used to fill labor shortages, especially for IT positions. U.S. employers frequently struggle to find qualified applicants to fill positions in the IT sector. The steady flow of foreign nationals who hold degrees in computer science, information systems, or the like, has helped to grow the U.S. economy and ensure that this country remains the world leader in technology. Trump’s executive order, along with the many related anti-immigration actions he has taken since assuming office, threatens to undo that.

As the U.S. continues to struggle to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with many citizens insisting restrictions violate their freedoms, the Trump Administration has been searching for someone to blame. Under the pretext of protecting U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have lost their jobs in the pandemic, President Trump’s proclamation is a means of fulfilling that goal. The Administration wants U.S. workers to believe that foreign nationals are the reason for their unemployment.

The reality is that U.S. workers are not competing with foreign national workers for jobs. Rather, they are benefiting from the jobs being created by foreign nationals who have, until recently, kept the U.S. economy humming.

Foreign nationals would not depart the comfort and stability of life in their home countries without good reason. The process of obtaining a nonimmigrant visa is time intensive, risky, and oftentimes expensive. U.S.-born citizens may not fully understand the convenience of growing up in a country where opportunities to succeed are so abundant. In contrast, many foreign nationals come from countries where the dream of economic prosperity is just that – a dream. Instead of being born into opportunity, they come to the United States with a purpose: to use their skills and knowledge to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the nation as a whole.

 

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