Throughout much of Joe Biden’s political career, he has postured as a champion of blue-collar workers. Now, as president, it is clear that he is the champion of foreign workers and unconcerned with the plight of Americans who continue to struggle economically.
The flooding of the labor market with cheap foreign workers began on March 31, when President Biden allowed President Trump’s travel ban on temporary workers to expire. This enabled thousands of H-1Bs, J-1 au pairs, and H-2B non-agricultural, low-skilled foreign workers to come to the United States to take jobs that Americans can do.
And then yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed earlier reporting by the Wall Street Journal that it is further increasing the H-2B cap of 66,000 per year by another 22,000 under authority delegated to the DHS secretary in the FY 2021 funding bill. As my colleague David North has noted, there is a 6,000 visa carve-out just for alien workers from the Northern Triangle to “expand lawful pathways for opportunity in the United States”.
The press release announcing the decision shows the Biden administration’s preference for foreign workers over getting Americans back to work. DHS justifies the decision by claiming the additional H-2B workers are necessary in “light of increased labor demands” and that businesses “report critical vacancies”.
This is intellectually dishonest. The DHS press release makes no reference to unemployment despite a readily available Department of Labor report showing that nearly 19 million Americans were still receiving unemployment checks as of mid-March. Unemployment has not disappeared since that data was reported.
When employers claim they cannot find American workers, what they really mean is they cannot find people willing to do the work for the wages businesses would prefer to pay. These employers have little incentive to go out of their way to find American workers if they know that they can easily get a foreign worker who will gladly accept the proffered wages because, while low by our standards, they are far higher than what the same work pays in the alien’s home country.
The Department of Labor is complicit in this ruse as they rubber-stamp an employer’s Temporary Labor Certification (TLC), a prerequisite to obtaining an H-2B worker. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes the TLC at face value and generally approves the H-2B petition.
In the end, the employer wins by getting cheap labor, the alien wins by earning American wages, and blue-collar and marginalized Americans lose as they are squeezed out of the labor market.