DHS Suspends Increase In Guest Worker Visas After Tucker Carlson’s Segment

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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DHS announced it’s suspending an increase in H-2B guest worker visas, just hours after Fox News host Tucker Carlson ripped the department for importing foreign nationals amid an economic crisis.

Carlson devoted a segment of his show Wednesday night to criticize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for releasing thousands of additional guest worker visas, allowing more foreign labor into the country while millions of Americans have filed unemployment claims. The television host called the move a “threat to our country.”

“Today, on April 1st, the Department of Homeland Security released 20,000 new H-2B Visas for seasonal guest workers to come into America and take jobs in industries like landscaping, food processing and resorts,” Carlson, a co-founder of the Daily Caller, said Wednesday night. “Another 15,000 Visas will become available next month in May.”

“We’re facing a global calamity that could wreck our economy, fracture our society,” he continued. “The time to placate corporate interests looking for low wages at all costs has passed. We need to stop this.”

Mexican workers, on the U.S. H2B visa program for seasonal guest workers, process crabs at the A.E. Phillips & Son Inc. crab picking house on Hooper's Island in Fishing Creek, Maryland August 26, 2015. Phillips has claimed pioneering status in the Chesapeake crab industry since 1956, when they opened their own restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, and today still run the picking operation on Hooper's Island to provide crabs to their network of eateries. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Mexican workers, on the U.S. H2B visa program for seasonal guest workers, process crabs at the A.E. Phillips & Son Inc. crab picking house on Hooper’s Island in Fishing Creek, Maryland August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The next morning, the economic situation became much more bleak. The U.S. Department of Labor announced that around 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment claims this past week, bringing the 2-week total to roughly 10 million.

The increased media scrutiny and surging unemployment claims appeared to be too much for DHS. The department on Thursday announced it was suspending the release of the planned 20,000 H-2B visas.

“To clear up various misreporting — DHS’s rule on the H-2B cap is on hold pending review due to present economic circumstances. No additional H-2B visas will be released until further notice,” read a statement from the DHS Twitter account.

H2-B visas are set aside for foreign workers to come temporarily into the U.S. and work in numerous non-agricultural industries, such as service and landscaping jobs.

Congress set the annual cap on H-2B visas at 66,000, giving temporary legal status to non-agricultural workers. At the same time, lawmakers gave DHS the authority to raise this cap by as much as 64,000 a year. In early March, right before COVID-19 grabbed the nation, DHS chief raised the cap by 35,000.

However, the 20,000 H-2B visas to be released in April is no longer a go — at least for now.

R.J. Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for America Immigration Reform (FAIR), said the move was laudable, but that U.S. workers need more amid this economic crisis.

“This is a step in the right direction and should be applauded,” Haumansaid to the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday. “However, 10 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past few weeks and it will get worse.” (RELATED: ICE Begins Rescuing Stranded Americans Outside Central America)

“That means we shouldn’t be importing any cheap foreign labor into the country. American workers need more – a complete moratorium on guest worker admissions,” he continued.

Hauman described the situation for DHS after Tucker’s attack, which was then followed by the Labor Department’s report.

“Tucker was pointing out reality, and reality got even worse this morning with the new unemployment numbers,” he said.

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