Senate

GOP lawmakers press Trump to suspend visas over coronavirus job losses

Greg Nash

Four GOP senators are urging President Trump to suspend immigration for guest workers as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the coronavirus outbreak.

Politico first reported a letter from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) calling on Trump to suspend guest worker visas for 60 days and prevent some workers from returning to the U.S. for up to a year.

“We write today regarding employment-based immigration into the United States during our country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic,” the four senators wrote. “Specifically, we write to urge you to suspend all new guest worker visas for sixty days, and to suspend certain categories of new guest worker visas for at least the next year.”

Exceptions to the ban should only be allowed for companies that can prove they can’t hire U.S. citizens to fill their open positions, the four senators continued.

A number of House Republicans, including Reps. Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), have signed on to a similar effort, writing in their own letter to Trump that “unaddressed guest worker programs” represent a “greater threat” than did green cards.  Trump suspended new applications for green cards in April.

The letters come as tens of millions of U.S. workers have filed for unemployment benefits amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced many nonessential businesses around the company to temporarily shutter. Economists have warned that high costs associated with the shutdown could force many businesses to remain closed permanently.

Lawmakers have provided funding for loans to support small businesses in previous stimulus bills, but the path for any additional legislation is unclear.

Payroll services provider ADP said on Wednesday that the U.S. private sector shed about 20 million jobs during the month of April, a shock to the economy that analysts called “unprecedented.”

“The total number of job losses for the month of April alone was more than double the total jobs lost during the Great Recession,” Ahu Yildirmaz, co-head of the ADP Research Institute, said.

The Labor Department will release May unemployment data on Friday.

Updated at 12:55 p.m. to include information about the House effort.

Tags Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Josh Hawley Lance Gooden Matt Gaetz Paul Gosar Ted Cruz Tom Cotton

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