The Department of Homeland Security will issue up to 15,000 visas allowing US companies to hire temporary, non-agricultural workers. This announcement was made in the context of Trump’s “Hire American” theme and at the start of the administration’s “Made in America” week.
To qualify for H-2B visas, hiring companies must swear under the penalty of perjury that they are “likely to suffer irreparable harm” without the hired workers. According to the Department, the additional visas are being allowed because the annual allotment of 66,000 H-2Bs, mandated by the Congress, was reached last March. Therefore, some firms experienced a lack of enough qualified US workers to perform temporary nonagricultural labor.
The Department stated that this announcement was aimed to help American businesses, through providing a one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap. The Department, however, made no mention of the White House’s “Made in America” week, which would include a series of events highlighting American manufacturing. More series of theme weeks are yet to come, including “American Heroes” week and “American Dreams” week.
Last April, however, Trump signed an executive order aimed at concretizing his “Buy American, Hire American” pledge. The executive order ordered federal agencies to examine government practices and review all programs under which foreign workers enter the US. Although the order extended to all visas, it only mentioned H-1B visa by name, which allows companies to bring highly skilled employees to the US.
Our Verdict: The influx of additional non-American workers into US labor market will contrast with Trump’s regularly-employed rhetoric that the White House would advocate “Buy American, Hire American” practices. Between retaining the consistency of his rhetoric and garnering support from big businesses, Trump chose the latter.