President Biden is expected to allow a Trump-era pause on guest-worker visas lapse Wednesday, a move that critics say could jeopardize American jobs.
Proclamation 10052, which was signed by then-President Donald Trump in June 2020, suspended guest worker programs — including new H-1B tech worker visas and H-2B seasonal worker visas — was characterized as an effort to preserve jobs for workers already in the US.
The move was touted at the time as part of an “American first recovery” from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.
It did not apply to foreign workers already in the US, but rather suspended the issuance of new visas.
Trump extended the proclamation in December, shortly before leaving office, but without action from President Biden, it will lapse on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, a group of five senators — four Democrats, including New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, plus Maine Independent Angus King — penned a letter to Biden asking that he let the proclamation lapse, specifically so that foreign workers could fill tech jobs.
“Looking ahead to long-term economic recovery, the deficit of foreign workers to fill available American tech jobs will worsen through any further lack of access to foreign talent,” the lawmakers wrote in part. “Every day these visa bans remain in place undermines our collective vision for a new, more prosperous and welcoming nation.”
As the senators noted, allowing the proclamation to lapse is a move likely to be welcomed by big businesses, particularly those in the tech sector.
But RJ Hauman, head of government relations at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told Fox News that not renewing the proclamation at a time when tens of thousands of migrants are also crossing the US-Mexico border and the economy remains fragile would harm American workers.
“As the Biden administration continues to fuel an illegal immigration crisis with radical open border policies, today they’ll likely pivot to legal immigration and restore unfettered access to guest workers in the midst of an economic crisis,” Hauman told the network.
“Would it really hurt to send at least one signal to hardworking Americans, reminding them that they’re also stakeholders in immigration policy – not just illegal aliens and businesses reliant on cheap foreign labor?”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its intentions with respect to the proclamation.