On Immigration, Trump Promises One Thing, Does the Opposite

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Predictably, the Trump administration added 35,000 temporary H-2B visas that will allow foreign nationals to work in the United States during the summer season. The existing 66,000 H-2B visa cap is divided into lots of 33,000 per season. Therefore, a 35,000 increase more than doubles the normal 33,000 summer cap to 68,000 overseas workers who will take landscaping, lifeguarding, forestry, seafood and leisure industry jobs. In the process, the H-2B makes good summer jobs harder to get for American kids who could use the income to defray college tuitions, help support their families or buy a car.

Here’s an interesting new wrinkle. DHS will set aside 10,000 new H-2B visas for Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans in what the administration optimistically hopes will ease the illegal immigrant flow to the U.S. border from Northern Triangle countries. If unused, the 10,000 visas cannot be transferred to other nationals.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, a former outsourcing lobbyist who approved the increase, wants immigration skeptics to believe the outrageous claim from businesses that not enough American youths can be found to fill these low-skill jobs. The claim doesn’t stand up to even the smell test – as if a local kid won’t cut lawns – and insults young, eager-to-work Americans.

February Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that about 5.8 million Americans are unemployed, a total that includes teenagers, black Americans, long-term unemployed and those marginally attached to the labor force, as well as the underemployed, the labor force segment working in part-time jobs even though they want and are looking for full-time jobs.

Above and beyond the federal employment-based H-1B, H-2A and H-2B visas, and other harmful giveaways like the Optional Practical Training program that severely hamper Americans’ job searches, each year more than 1 million legal immigrants arrive. The newly arrived immigrants receive lifetime-valid employment authorization documents that allow them to enter the labor market. About three-quarters of a million guest workers also arrive.

President Trump’s campaign promises to create an immigration system that benefits Americans is ancient history. In each of the last three years, caving in to the business lobby, the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security has increased the H-2B cap. In fact, The Palm Beach Post reported that President Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago Club hired 70 maids, cooks and servers for the 2017-2018 tourist season, up from 64 the previous year.

Although President Trump maintained then, and still insists today, that an acute labor shortage makes finding American workers “very, very hard,” Palm Beach County’s CareerSource placement agency said that during the months that Mar-a-Lago hired foreign workers there were “5,136 qualified candidates in Palm Beach County for various hospitality positions listed in the Employ Florida state jobs database.”

Over-immigration has hurt all demographics, but none more dramatically than working-age males, especially those with a high school diploma or less. Arriving immigrants are mostly undereducated and with few skills. Since immigration continues at the same 2 million-plus level per year – legal permanent residents plus guest workers – it represents, from jobless and underemployed Americans’ perspective, piling on.

University of Maryland economics professor Melissa Kearney found that despite the allegedly tight labor market that employers are forever complaining about, men between the ages of 25 and 54 are less likely to be working today than in previous years. In 1968, about 95 percent of men in their prime working years held jobs; today the total has fallen to 86 percent.

Basic math explains why. Annually, immigration contributes about 2 million employment-authorized individuals to the workforce. Those 2 million need jobs. Many are willing to work for lower wages and in less favorable conditions than Americans would. While the Trump administration has made some positive changes to immigration policy, with lower yearly refugee admissions one example, the policy of admitting 2 million authorized workers remains unchanged.

President Trump is in 2020 campaign mode. The president’s base and other Americans concerned about their futures are closely watching his actions and, because talk is cheap, discounting his immigration bluster. Increasing H-2B admissions is a strike against President Trump, and a stark reminder that, on immigration, he can’t be trusted.