No matter how beaten down American workers are or how dim their employment prospects, the White House and Congress continue their relentless insistence on importing hundreds of thousands more foreign-born workers.
At the same time, legal immigration remains mostly unchanged, and annually adds more than 1 million lifetime work authorized immigrants to the labor pool.
The U.S. economy is in a calamitous free fall. In the last seven weeks, approximately 33 million Americans have lost their jobs.
As grave as this is, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic may have prevented 30 percent to 40 percent of qualified applicants from claiming unemployment benefits. In addition, EPI analysts calculate that since March 15, between 8.9 million and 13.9 million people who could have filed for unemployment didn’t.
Many economists project that before the pandemic ends, the U.S. unemployment rate will reach 30 percent, exceeding the Great Depression’s peak of 25 percent.
Everyone is suffering, but millennials — adults between 20 and 40 years old — are the hardest hit. A Data for Progress report found that a staggering 52 percent of people under age 45 have lost a job, been furloughed or had their hours reduced.
Since the average immigrant is 31 years old, they’ll compete head-to-head with struggling millennials for rapidly vanishing jobs, especially in the leisure industry. Given the dire economy, no intelligent argument can be proffered that persuasively supports more immigration.
Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that temporarily suspended some immigration. Because it stated an intention to “protect our great American workers,” it generated an immediate buzz among lower-immigration level supporters.
But Trump’s commitment to defend Americans turned out to be hollow. The number of immigrants his order would affect over its initial 60 days is between 5,000 and 80,000, a tiny fraction of the 1 million-plus foreign nationals the United States accepts every year.
Also left unchanged in the order are the multiple destructive-to-American workers guest worker programs.
In 2019, nearly 1 million employment-based visas were granted. The visa breakdown: 205, 000 H-2A agricultural workers, 97,000 H-2B nonagricultural workers, 188,000 H-1B tech workers, 77,000, L-1 international transfers and 353,000 J-1 cultural exchange workers.
But that’s not where the bad news ends. H-4 work permit visas are still being doled out to visa holders’ spouses, and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which grants three-year valid work permits to foreign nationals graduating from U.S. colleges, is still in effect. In 2018, 145,000 foreign graduates received OPT work authorization.
At a time when Trump and Congress should demand a prolonged immigration pause, the executive and legislative branches are not only maintaining the status quo, they are pressing for more overseas labor.
Two recent congressional actions show how dedicated the White House and Congress are to maintaining immigration at its historically high peak.
The first: Instead of announcing that more tech workers, mostly Indian and Chinese nationals, would be denied entry, the government is poised to let the H-1B visa process continue as usual. Last year the H-1B lottery approved 85,000 new employment visas and, for more than a decade, nonpartisan studies have proven that H-1B visas are unnecessary and serve only to sate tech moguls’ cheap labor addiction.
Second, a group of senators led by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, a high-immigration advocate, introduced legislation that would grant 40,000 green cards to international health-care workers. Yet today, more than 20,000 U.S. medical school graduates who were unmatched to a residency program are available to go to work, immediately.
Moreover, the quality of the medical education that international doctors possess is an unknown variable. American doctors must come first.
Congress’ unyielding devotion to excessive immigration proves that it is anti-U.S. worker and indifferent to Americans’ will. According to a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll, 65 percent of Americans want legal and illegal immigration to end. Let’s listen to them.
— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.