GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas

GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican senators are asking the Trump administration not to restrict temporary work-based visas amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamJaime Harrison seeks to convince Democrats he can take down Lindsey Graham Hillicon Valley: Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse | Trump administration awards tech group contract to build 'virtual' wall | Advocacy groups urge Congress to ban facial recognition technologies Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse MORE (S.C.), John CornynJohn CornynSenators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP skeptical of polling on Trump GOP: Trump needs a new plan On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions MORE (Idaho), Jim Risch (Idaho), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsRepublicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Republican rift opens up over qualified immunity for police GOP divided in fight over renaming bases MORE (S.D.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate Republicans defend Trump's response on Russian bounties Stronger patent rights would help promote US technological leadership In the next COVID-19 bill, target innovation and entrepreneurship MORE (Ind.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators push to limit transfer of military-grade equipment to police MORE (Alaska), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanUS security starts in the Arctic Senate confirms nation's first African American service chief GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas MORE (Alaska) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday Trump calls for Congress to take action against 'lowlifes' who burn American flag Senators offer bill to expand charitable giving tax break MORE (Okla.) argue that issuing H-2B and H-2A visas, which are used for seasonal workers, will help economic recovery.

The call comes as some conservative lawmakers have called for the suspension of work visas amid widespread unemployment. According to the lawmakers, most states rely on guest workers "to help keep their forestry, landscaping, seafood, and hospitality businesses open."

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“Some of these struggling small businesses rely on labor that many Americans may not be qualified or able to perform, even in the aftermath of the pandemic, and some of these businesses operate in industry sectors that are not experiencing high unemployment—in contrast with the overall national unemployment figures—or in particular geographical locations where qualified labor is scarce,” the senators wrote in a letter addressed to President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE

Earlier this month the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to publish a new rule this week that would allow an additional 30,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the remainder of fiscal 2019.

At the time, Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senator calls reporting on Russia bounties 'absolutely inaccurate' after White House briefing New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in MORE (R-Ark.) called the move "bad news for hard-working Americans and more than 50k unemployed Arkansans." 

As the lawmakers noted Wednesday, the employers hiring workers using temporary visas must “establish the lack of American workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.” 

“Due to the temporary and seasonal nature of the work, it is exceedingly difficult to find American workers, even now, who wish to work only on a temporary basis. Many of the jobs lost since March are not temporary or seasonal,” the lawmakers wrote.