Donald Trump signs new immigration crackdown for rest of the year banning half a million new visas to ‘boost U.S. jobs’ in wake of coronavirus crisis
- Trump is signing new immigration restrictions which an official said are to help free up jobs for American workers
- He is freezing new visas being issued in a series of categories for the rest of the year, including the H-1B visas used by tech firms to bring in workers
- Also frozen are H-2B s used for hospitality and agricultural workers; J-1s used for exchange students; and L-1 s for multi-national firms’ managers
- Health care workers assisting with the coronavirus fight will continue to be spared from the green-card freeze, though their exemption will be narrower
- ‘President Trump is focused on getting Americans back to work as quickly as possible,’ a White House official said
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The Trump administration said Monday that it was extending a ban on green cards issued outside the United States until the end of the year and adding many temporary work visas to the freeze, including those used heavily by technology companies and multinational corporations.
The administration cast the effort as a way to free up jobs in an economy reeling from the coronavirus.
A senior official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity estimated the restrictions will free up to 525,000 jobs for Americans.
‘President Trump is focused on getting Americans back to work as quickly as possible,’ the official said, on condition of anonymity.
Trump had endlessly touted a strong economy, but now finds himself desperate for a political boost ahead of the November election.
Sweeping immigration crackdown: Trump and his administration are freezing visas in a series of categories and claim it will open up 525,000 jobs to U.S. workers
A Custom and Border Protection officer processes a passenger arriving in the United States at the Newark International Airport
Trump’s been pushed by White House immigration hardliner Stephen Miller to use the coronavirus crisis to further curtail immigration.
The ban, while temporary, would amount to major restructuring of legal immigration if made permanent, a goal that had eluded the administration before the pandemic. Business groups had pressed hard to limit their reach, saying many of these workers are essential.
The ban on new visas applies to H-1B visas, which are used by major American technology companies, and their immediate families, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, J-1 visas for exchange students and L-1 visas for managers of multinational corporations.
There will be exemptions for food processing workers, which make up about 15% of H-2B visas, the official said. Health care workers assisting with the coronavirus fight will continue to be spared from the green-card freeze, though their exemption will be narrower.
Trump imposed a 60-day ban on green cards issued abroad in April, which was set to expire Monday.
That announcement, which largely targeted family members, drew a surprisingly chilly reception from immigration hardliners, who said the president didn’t go far enough.
The new steps to include non-immigrant visas satisfy many, but not all, the hardliners’ wishes.
The freezes on visas issued abroad are designed to take effect immediately.
Other changes, including restrictions on work permits for asylum-seekers, will go through a formal rule-making process that takes months.
The administration is proposing a new way of awarding H-1B visas, which are capped at 85,000 a year and used by Indian technology giants as well as companies like Amazon Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc., the official said.
The administration wants to award them by highest salary instead of by lottery.
The official stressed the H1-B visa freeze was temporary while the program is restructured, from an annual lottery that feeds coders and other specialists to Silicon Valley, to a system the gives priority to those foreign workers with the most value.
Trump ‘is going to prioritize those workers who are offered the highest wages,’ as an indicator that they can add more value to the US economy, the official said.
‘It will eliminate competition with Americans… in these industries at the entry level, and will do more to get the best and the brightest.’