Trump Administration Goes After H-1B Visa Program

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Warns Immigrant Workers to be Vigilant
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144

Today, President Trump signed an executive order intended to encourage hiring American workers through a revision of the country’s H-1B visa program and ultimately discourage the hiring of low-wage foreign workers. Based on reported content of the executive order, Advancing Justice | AAJC, Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Advancing Justice - Atlanta, and Advancing Justice - Chicago issue the following statement:  

“Our civil rights organizations condemn the Trump administration for trying to pit U.S. workers against immigrant workers and creating economic and immigration policies premised on the false idea that a U.S.-born American worker’s financial struggles are the result of immigrant worker’s opportunities.

Studies authored by those across the political spectrum consistently demonstrate that H-1B workers and their economic contributions expand the economy, including the creation of desired jobs for the local U.S.-born American workforce.

We are wary about the Trump Administration’s myopic fixation on H-1B visa abuse by employers, which should be addressed by better enforcement of the already stringent employer obligations.  We hope that the policy does not lead to H-1B employees losing immigration status. Any process by which the government targets workplaces must include a protocol to assist not only impacted U.S. workers, but also H-1B workers who are particularly vulnerable given their immigration status, and who can be victims of visa abuse by unscrupulous employers.

This executive order and other Trump rhetoric demonstrates an inherent bias against immigrant workers, especially those not labeled as highly-skilled. Immigrant workers of various skill sets provide necessary and vital contributions to the U.S., including as small business owners who create jobs in the U.S. economy.

Focusing solely on H-1B workers is short-sighted and fails to address the well-documented abuse of other temporary guest workers, whose visa categories lack the oversight available in the H-1B program, even where the abuse rises to the level of human trafficking. The exploitation of temporary guest workers—and displacement of U.S.-born American workers—will continue unabated with unscrupulous employers moving from one guest worker visa to another, unless the Trump administration engages in a comprehensive approach. H-1B workers and their families, like other migrants to America, are a tremendous source of innovation and make an outsized contribution to society.  

Advancing Justice | AAJC, Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Advancing Justice - Atlanta, and Advancing Justice - Chicago caution community members, especially those residing in the United States on guest worker visas, to remain vigilant against employer exploitation, and to seek legal assistance as needed. Further, we caution all workers, whether born in the U.S. or abroad, to devise a preparedness plan in the event there is work site visit or audit at the workplace.”