US to make 30,000 more visas available for seasonal workers

US to make 30,000 more visas available for seasonal workers
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration plans to publish a new rule this week that would allow an additional 30,000 migrant workers to stay in the U.S. for seasonal work through the end of September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday.

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced that his agency and the Department of Labor will issue an additional 30,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the remainder of fiscal 2019.

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The program allows businesses to hire seasonal help that is critical to their operations, filling jobs that in many cases American workers won't do. The additional visas are being issued as President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE and his allies warn against the effects of a surge of migrants at the southern border.

Upon announcing the change, which will go into effect on Wednesday, McAleenan called on Congress to take the lead on doling out the temporary work permits.

"Congress – not DHS – should be responsible for determining whether the annual numerical limitations for H-2B workers set by Congress need to be modified and by how much, and for setting parameters to ensure that enough workers are available to meet employers’ temporary needs throughout the year," he said.

The government will prioritize the visas for businesses "who would suffer irreparable harm without the additional workers," according to DHS.

The H-2B visas are available only to returning workers who previously received the permit during one of the last three fiscal years, McAleenan said, as those individuals are less likely to remain in the country and work without proper paperwork once their visa has expired.

The announcement drew rebukes from some who support lower overall immigration.

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Iran announces it will exceed uranium stockpile restraints of nuclear deal MORE (R-Ark.) called the move "bad news for hard-working Americans and more than 50k unemployed Arkansans."

"I’m disappointed at the decision to import tens of thousands more low-skilled workers to take jobs that American workers want to do," Cotton tweeted.

While Trump and some of his allies have pressed for hard-line immigration policies, arguing that migrants are taking American jobs, the increase in temporary work visas reflect the ongoing demand for labor in a strong economy.

The latest jobs report showed that the U.S economy added 263,000 jobs in April, and that the unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent. The latter figure marked the lowest jobless rate since 1969.

White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race Kushner meeting with senators to craft asylum deal MORE said late last month he was working on an immigration plan that would address Trump's desire for border security and give more weight to economic qualifications of potential immigrants.