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Brooks praises Trump executive order blocking some work visas

Congressman Mo Brooks speaking on the House floor.

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, on Tuesday, praised President Donald Trump’s proclamation blocking some work visas through the end of 2020 in an effort to prevent the importation of cheap labor.

“America suffers from some of the worst unemployment ever recorded,” Brooks said. “The unemployment rate nearly quadrupled between February and May of 2020 and now stands at 13.3%. Over 40 million Americans lost jobs over the past four months. President Trump’s Executive Order suspending foreign worker visas through the end of 2020 is great news for struggling American workers.”

“I’m pleased President Trump heeded the advice of my colleagues and I who recently asked for a halt to importing cheap foreign labor,” Brooks said. “I’m also pleased President Trump refused to cave to intense pressure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other special interest groups that, out of greed and self-interest, had the hutzpah to demand the importation of even more cheap foreign labor despite the severe damage done to struggling, jobless American families.”

“Each year, America issues roughly 1 million foreign worker visas,” Brooks said. “That’s on top of the roughly 7 million illegal aliens who hold jobs in America. Not only do foreign workers take American jobs, cheap foreign labor significantly undermines American wages. According to Harvard economist Dr. George Borjas, between 1980 and 2000, importing cheap foreign labor cut earnings of Americans by an estimated $1,700 per year, or roughly 4 percent. There are no jobs Americans will not do if offered free market pay to do them. I support the free-enterprise system that requires employers to pay what is necessary to attract employees with needed skills. I applaud President Trump for forcing American companies to pay American workers what they are worth without the suppressant effect of cheap foreign labor.”

“The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has significantly disrupted Americans’ livelihoods,” Trump said. “Since March 2020, United States businesses and their workers have faced extensive disruptions while undertaking certain public health measures necessary to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The overall unemployment rate in the United States nearly quadrupled between February and May of 2020 — producing some of the most extreme unemployment ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the May rate of 13.3 percent reflects a marked decline from April, millions of Americans remain out of work.”

“I determined that, without intervention, the United States faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labor supply outpaces labor demand,” Trump said. “Consequently, I suspended, for a period of 60 days, the entry of aliens as immigrants, subject to certain exceptions. As I noted, lawful permanent residents, once admitted pursuant to immigrant visas, are granted “open-market” employment authorization documents, allowing them immediate eligibility to compete for almost any job, in any sector of the economy. Given that 60 days is an insufficient time period for the United States labor market, still stalled with partial social distancing measures, to rebalance, and given the lack of sufficient alternative means to protect unemployed Americans from the threat of competition for scarce jobs from new lawful permanent residents.”

“The Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security reviewed nonimmigrant programs and found that the present admission of workers within several nonimmigrant visa categories also poses a risk of displacing and disadvantaging United States workers during the current recovery,” the president stated. “American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy, including against millions of aliens who enter the United States to perform temporary work. Temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers. Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy. But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”

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Trump said that more than 17 million jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B nonimmigrant visas.

“The May unemployment rate for young Americans, who compete with certain J nonimmigrant visa applicants, has been particularly high — 29.9 percent for 16-19 year olds, and 23.2 percent for the 20-24 year old group. The entry of additional workers through the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa programs, therefore, presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.

“We must remain mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labor market, particularly in the current extraordinary environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labor,” Trump stated. “I have determined that the entry, through December 31, 2020, of certain aliens as immigrants and nonimmigrants would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

The president’s executive order is available here.

Brooks has been an outspoken supporter of tightening border security and reforming U.S. immigration laws so that companies can not use immigration laws to depress the wages of American citizens.

Brooks represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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