I am disappointed that some of your Senate colleagues are pushing for an increase in H-2B numbers. As H-2B visas typically cover seasonal, entry-level, or unskilled jobs, these visas disproportionately harm young Americans. Increasing H-2B visa numbers would prevent thousands more young Americans from entering the workplace.
We are writing to express our concerns with the increase in H-2B visas for FY2017 authorized by Congress through the Omnibus appropriations bill last month. There is simply no evidence of a labor shortage, especially among the most vulnerable American workers, to necessitate this increase.
I was concerned by your recent statements to the Economist where you said that you did not want to reduce legal immigration levels. These statements contradict your Joint Address to Congress when you said, “Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.”
Sen. Ron Johnson’s new legislation, the State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program of 2017, is a travesty on so many levels. Importing 500,000 foreign workers each year will directly harm the more than 9 million Americans who cannot find a full-time job and make it much more unlikely that any of the 95 million Americans outside the labor force will return to it. To make matters worse, the spouses and children of these new foreign workers would receive work permits, adding hundreds of thousands of additional new workers.
The new omnibus unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee calls for increases in the number of H-2B visas issued every year. I urge you to strip this provision out before it comes to the floor for a vote.
It is disappointing that some of your colleagues are pushing for returning H-2B visa holders to be exempted from the H-2B cap as part of the new spending bill. If they are successful, young and less-educated Americans who depend on these jobs will find be more likely to join the ranks of the permanently unemployed. Please do all you can to ensure that the next spending bill does not increase H-2B numbers.
It is disappointing that some of your colleagues are pushing for returning H-2B visa holders to be exempted from the H-2B cap as part of the new spending bill. If they are successful, young and less-educated Americans who depend on these jobs will find be more likely to join the ranks of the permanently unemployed. Please do all you can to ensure that returning H-2B workers are not exempted from the visa cap.
USCIS recently notified employers to identify returning workers on their H-2B applications for FY2017. This was done in anticipation of Congress extending a provision from last year’s spending bill that exempted returning workers from the annual cap of 66,000, potentially quadrupling the number of visas given out. This would have a devastating effect on American workers with a high school education or less who have unemployment rates significantly higher than the national average. Please oppose any efforts to expand the H-2B visa program in the FY2017 spending bills.
Research by the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that high levels of immigration benefit businesses instead of workers and reduces wages for low-skilled and less-educated workers. Please support overall reductions in immigration numbers to protect jobs and wages for all Americans.
I urge you to oppose any expansion of the H-2B low-skilled guest worker program in the upcoming continuing resolution. The unemployment rates for Americans with a high school degree or less are nearly double the national average, and these Americans have to compete directly for jobs with H-2B visa holders.