White House Delivers Another Blow to Reeling American Unemployed

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

May 8, 2014

H4 Visa Holders to be Work Authorized

I’m putting this one in my “I’d rather be wrong than right” file. In my April 19 post, I alerted CAPS readers that the Department of Homeland Security was stealthily moving toward giving work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders. Under current regulations, spouses and children of H-1B workers receive an H-4 visa that allows them to study, open bank accounts and drive, but not work.

However, in the latest in a series of President Obama’s ongoing unilateral executive action immigration increases, the White House officially announced this week that despite high U.S. unemployment, it wants to give work permits to spouses of “some” H-1B employees. As many as 100,000 foreign nationals could get scarce U.S. jobs.

Many of the spouses will work in the high-tech industries that have lobbied hard for increases to the H-1B 65,000 maximum cap. Other newly authorized workers could work at lower paying jobs in health care, retail and restaurant services that are among the few available to Americans. Wherever they might end up employed, the 100,000 newly minted workers will represent an equal 100,000 Americans who will find their job searches more challenging and possibly futile.

In a news release, Senator Jeff Session listed several reasons the Obama administration’s changes are bad for Americans. Among them: “Nearly 1 in 2 recent college graduates is underemployed and approximately 1 in 3 African-American youth is unemployed, and “...large numbers of qualified Americans are available and seeking work – in a diverse range of occupations and skill levels that includes STEM.”

Sessions concluded, “This will help corporations by further flooding a slack labor market, pulling down wages. It is good news for citizens in other countries who will be hired. But for struggling Americans, it will only reduce wages, lower job opportunities and make it harder to scrape by.”

The usual political deceits about how allowing more overseas workers will boost the economy accompanied the DHS announcement. “The proposals announced today will encourage highly skilled, specially trained individuals to remain in the United States and continue to support U.S. businesses and the growth of the U.S. economy,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker chimed in that the revisions would help the U.S. attract and keep “world-class talent.” Some visas will be extended 240 days beyond their original expiration date. Mayorkas and Pritzker staunchly support the Senate and House amnesty bills.

Making things more frustrating for detractors, the proposed rule changes will be posted on regulations.gov and will be open to comments. Historically critical remarks, valid though they may be, are ignored, while positive ones will be used as an excuse to move forward.

Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to urge President Obama to enforce immigration law as written and to stop unilaterally using executive actions to advance his pro-immigration, anti-American worker agenda.

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