An immigration watchdog says Republican lawmakers, currently debating the issue of guest workers, need to side with Americans.
Republican senators led by South Carolina's Lindsey Graham have sent a letter to President Donald Trump demanding an increase in foreign guest workers despite the country reeling from an economic crisis that put 41 million Americans out of work in a matter of weeks.
Graham and eight other GOP lawmakers urged the president not to impose limits on foreign guest worker programs. The letter argues that "struggling small businesses rely on labor that many Americans may not be qualified or able to perform, even in the aftermath of the pandemic."
The letter is at odds with other GOP senators and House members, who recently urged the President in their own letter to suspend guest worker visas during the pandemic, freeing those jobs for unemployed Americans.
The stark contrast highlights the current fight within the Republican Party, which is being wooed by the pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcoming cheap foreign labor versus President Trump’s promise of an “America First” policy.
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, says Republicans are “struggling” over the issue of welcoming more immigrants unlike the Democrats "who seem to be united on the position of open borders,” he says.
President Trump seemed to reflect his "America First" policy in April when he signed an executive order to pause some green cards for 60 days, an action that did not affect guest visas. Those visa programs are H-2B and H-2A, which are used for seasonal workers.
Mehlman says addressing the guest worker program does not require a change in current law, which means President Trump has the authority to suspend the program temporarily during the “national crisis” that put millions out of work.
The Hill reported In a May 20 story that GOP Rep. Andy Biggs, who heads the House Freedom Caucus, urged Trump to give Americans "priority consideration" for business opportunties by suspending new guest-worker visas for at least a year.
Exactly a week after that story published, The Hill reported Sen. Graham and other senators insisted that both visa programs should remain untouched "to help keep their forestry, landscaping, seafood, and hospitality businesses open."