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DHS gives low-wage workers short shrift

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By Joe Guzzardi
Syndicated columnist

Today’s headlines are about the Israel-Gaza War, pro-Palestine rallies, Democrats’ success in the November 7 elections and President Donald Trump’s legal travails. But away from the bold print, permanent Washington continues its nonstop assault on American workers.

As is the Department of Homeland Security’s cowardly practice when the agency anticipates voters will wince from its announcement, it chose a late Friday afternoon to make public its decision to increase by 65,000 yearly the H-2B nonagricultural, low-skilled workers’ visa. The hike is staggering because the existing annual total is 66,000. 

With a stroke of the pen, DHS doubled the number of foreign nationals who will be arriving to do a wide number of jobs that Americans would otherwise perform.

Every year, congressional immigration expansionists and the Chamber of Commerce along with its corporate allies repeat the same tedious stories: No workers! Bankruptcy alert! Neither side of the aisle mounts much of a challenge to the false narrative. Over the decades, the mainstream media has done little if any investigative journalism to uncover and then reveal the H-2B program’s widespread fraud and abuse.

From time-to-time, however, insightful reports, surprisingly from left-leaning sources, have dug deeply enough to disclose the distasteful truth lurking within:

• NPR: “It’s not just about labor scarcity, it’s about employer control.”

• New York Times: The shortage claim “does not stand up”… H-2B [is] “not an acceptable solution.”

• The Economic Policy Institute: Their blockbuster report uncovered that over the past two decades major H-2B employers have stolen $1.8 billion from workers.

EPI’s researcher and the damning report’s author, Daniel Costa, turned out to be prescient. Costa wrote that, despite its shameless exploitation of workers, and its consistent failure to add worker protections to the program, the H-2B program is “growing.” Lo and behold, at 4:08pm, Friday, November 8, DHS Secretary Alejando Mayorkas’ DHS doubled the H-2B program. 

David North, a long-time H-2B observer and critic, broke down the new 65,000 as follows: a 20,000 set-aside for aliens from Haiti, Colombia and Central America’s Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. DHS bureaucrats slipped this outrage through even though previous work permission expansions to Haiti, for example, yielded almost no applicants. The remaining 45,000 in DHS’ harmful giveaway are retreads from recent H-2B workers who have, over the last three years, toiled for a pittance.

DHS’ unwarranted labor market expansion action is a direct slap in the face to American workers. President Joe Biden’s open borders has led to more than 5 million mostly unskilled, undereducated individuals who are perfect fits for H-2B labor in construction, landscaping, hospitality and the seafood industry. For employers, the border surge represents Christmas everyday – thousands of workers to choose from and without having to fill out the tedious paperwork that the government requires to secure an H-2B visa.

Moreover, in yet continued good news for employers, through the first eight months of 2023, nearly a quarter million migrants received parole at the Southwest border. Customs and Border Protection paroled another 221,456 foreign-born nationals who flew, compliments of U.S. taxpayers, into their preferred port of entry using Biden’s illegally concocted CBP One App. In all, nearly 475,000 parolees received work permission, further diminishing down to zero the need for more H-2B visas.

As subversive as DHS’ disregard for U.S. workers and American sovereignty is, the story just begins when illegal aliens get their employment authorization. Overwhelmingly unvetted, most quasi-legalized migrants will never return home, will add to already-unsustainable population growth and collapsing social services, and will as well as contribute mightily to school and hospital overcrowding. Doubters who view this interpretation as overstatement should ask themselves if they think Haitian, Salvadorans, Guatemalans or Hondurans, once settled in the U.S., will return home. Such a possibility is unlikely, at best. 

Barring a new 2025 administration’s heroic intervention, complete with a vigorous removal plan of those who arrived through Biden’s unconstitutional and illegal scheming, the migrants are here to stay.

Here is a final thought on the long-standing, unproven claim that the nation has a worker shortage. The traditional solution to labor scarcities, when and if they exist, is offering workers higher wages.

Joe Guzzardi is an Institute for Sound Public Policy analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. 

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