President Donald Trump has been doggedly implementing an openly xenophobic agenda, targeting not only illegal immigration but also legal immigration. However, a draft memo released last week by the Trump Administration titled ‘Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs’ only addresses some categories of work visas. It conveniently avoids mentioning two of the largest foreign worker programs, which just happen to be the two visa programs used by Trump’s family businesses.
The Administration’s proposal would cut back on the provisions of the Optional Practice Training rule, which allows foreign students who just completed higher education in the United States to stay and work for a period of time. It also targets H-1B visas, which allow skilled workers into the U.S. to fill gaps that companies cannot fill with Americans. (Trump’s wife, Melania, came to American on an H-1B visa as a model, which is not what the visa scheme was intended for.)
Trump would also cut back on L-1 visas that allow companies to bring in foreign managers to personally oversee U.S. operations. Additionally, he would like to prevent seasonal workers from coming to American tourist towns on J-1 visas, and he wants to “improve monitoring of foreign students,” a vague but sinister-sounding statement.
However, Trump would leave untouched H-2A and H-2B visas which allow unskilled agricultural and non-agricultural workers, respectively, into the country seasonally. H-2B workers are employed at Trump resorts like Mar-a-Lago in Florida and H-2A workers are employed by Trump Vineyards.
It is true that economists think unskilled immigrants provide marginal benefits to the American economy. However, the most obvious and significant benefits come from skilled immigrants. Unfortunately, Trump is putting his personal profit and his racist agenda ahead of economic benefit for the rest of America.
He is woefully ignorant of the economics of immigration – and of economics in general – and resorts to spewing xenophobic, race-baiting rhetoric and riding waves of uninformed populism. The only thing tempering his hatred of immigration is profit from the family businesses he refused to fully divest from.
The White House has wasted no time implementing an agenda of hate with a significant side project of corruption. In less than two weeks Trump has confirmed our worst fears.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.