Trump Gambles On Immigrant Workers During Global Pandemic
President Donald Trump’s administration is still asking immigrants for specific jobs despite crowds of Americans filing for unemployment.
They are urging medical professionals to contact a U.S. embassy to move their application process along, aware of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping America.
It is lifting immigrant’s needs to get jobs as farmworkers, landscapers, and crab pickers, cognizant that industries, including those that fill grocery store shelves, could be hurt if they couldn’t hire foreign employees.
And until facing criticism this week, it had been moving ahead with a 35,000-person increase in the number of seasonal workers in part for expected job openings at resorts and golf courses after the pandemic releases its grip on the economy.
Trump faces tremendous pressure to boost the economy — both during and after the coronavirus outbreak. And he’s adopting an approach which business community has long pushed, i.e., to recruit workers for perennially empty jobs, even if they’re not American workers. Business leaders say that even during the coronavirus crisis, foreign workers are critical to companies that might be unable to find enough unemployed Americans willing to take specific jobs, primarily if those people can collect more money via jobless benefits.
“There’s still a need for these types of workers,” said one business industry representative in touch with the administration.
But the move poses political risks for the president, with hard-line immigration activists baffled that Trump would choose a moment of financial peril — with unemployment skyrocketing and a reelection campaign around the corner — to turn to foreign workers.
In response to pressure from opponents, the Trump administration did backtrack on some of its plans, pausing the approval of 35,000 more seasonal worker visas, pending further review. But the other moves remain in place for now.
Back in the year 2016, Trump made cracking down on immigration the centerpiece of his campaign. He promised to establish a wall on the southern border with Mexico and deport millions of migrants who arrived in the country illegally. In his inaugural address, he vowed to rebuild the country with American labor. “We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American,” he said.
But it has also begun easing the process for companies looking to hire foreign workers, altering some paperwork requirements, including allowing electronic signatures and waiving the physical inspection of documents.
Since the pandemic began, the administration has restricted foreign visitors from China, Europe, Canada, and Mexico, and postponed hearings for immigrants wanting to remain in the U.S. More broadly; it paused visa processing for those that aren’t being granted exemptions.