The administration will invite at least 100,000 extra foreign workers to win jobs in the U.S. over the next four years, according to a May 6 statement by Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
The extra foreign workers will boost the resident population of graduate guest workers above 750,000. That’s almost as many jobs as the entire number of 842,000 blue-collar, white-collar and professional jobs that were gained from January to the end of April.
In June 2012, during the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama began granting work permits to young illegal immigrants. Since then, he has given work-permits to 521,815 illegal immigrants, who compete for the jobs sought by the 4 million Americans who turn 18 each year.
The May 6 announcement was slammed by Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is trying to highlight the impact of guest workers and large-scale immigration on American workers. “This will help corporations by further flooding a slack labor market, pulling down wages,” said Sessions in a May 6 statement. “It is good news for citizens in other countries who will be hired… [but] for struggling Americans, it will only reduce wages, lower job opportunities, and make it harder to scrape by.”
Initially, the work permits will be given to roughly 97,000 spouses of graduate-level guest workers who are already in the United States on six-year work visas. Once the backlog is cleared, officials said they would award roughly 30,000 work-permits per year to the guest workers’ spouses.
The inflow of 30,000 extra workers will add to “the existing annual [arrival] of approximately 700,000 [short-term] guest workers and 1 million new permanent immigrant admissions,” said Sessions’ statement.
Only about 50,000 of each year’s supply of guest workers are employed in agriculture. The remaining 650,000 are employed work in a wide variety of short-term or multi-year jobs in areas such as retail, landscaping, fish-processing, and professional services.
Ron Hira, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, estimates that there are roughly 650,000 university-trained guest workers with long-term visas who are resident in the country. That’s almost as many as the 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in such as areas as engineering, business, accounting, medicine and software.
Experts such as Hal Salzman at Rutgers University say U.S. universities are already training more high-tech graduates than the nation’s high-tech industry can employ. Polls show the American public strongly opposes companies’ use of guest workers.
The extra inflow of foreign workers will benefit companies and productivity, Mayorkas told reporters during a brief phone conference Tuesday morning.
“This enhances our country’s competitiveness,” he said, without addressing whether it will help Americans find the good jobs that are needed to buy homes and raise families.
In March, Bloomberg reported that unemployed American college grads are pushing blue-collar Americans out of low-wage jobs. “The funny thing is, the majority of our servers, bartenders and people who work in the corporate office do carry either a master’s or Ph.D,” Kimberly Galban, a vice president of operations at the One Off Hospitality Group in Chicago, told Bloomberg.
Roughly 44 percent of American graduates aged from 22 to 27 work in jobs beneath their skill level, up one-third from the 34 percent rate in 2001, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In April 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that 284,000 college grads were working in minimum-wage jobs, and 13.4 million working in hourly-paid jobs.
The new changes “will help us attract and keep the best minds in America,” Penny Pritzker, the secretary of the Department of Commerce, told the reporters.
“These individuals are American families-in-waiting… we have to do more to attract and retain world class talent to the United States,” said Pritzker, a former fundraiser for President Barack Obama and an heir to the Hyatt chain of hotels.
The change has “strong support from business leaders, colleges and universities,” Pritzker added.
Many businesses cuts costs by using lower-paid guest workers, or subcontracting work to companies that use the guest workers. Also, universities support the guest-worker programs, partly because non-profits can hire as many guest workers as they wish.