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Republican Lawmakers Call for Suspension of Foreign Worker Visas as Unemployment Mounts

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Republicans leaned on President Donald Trump from the Hill this week, urging the administration to protect American workers struggling to find or maintain employment amid the throes of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a Thursday letter to the president, GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Chuck Grassley of Iowa led the charge, calling for broad “expansion and extension” of an April 22 executive order suspending a “limited class” of immigrant worker visas.

Suggested revisions to the order include the suspension of all new employment-related visas for sixty days and would, for certain visa classes, allow for regular renewal of the moratorium for up to a year, or until economic conditions improve to pre-coronavirus levels.

It would also prevent many guest workers from returning to the country during that time.

“The coronavirus pandemic has wrought terrible damage on our country, and we will likely continue to experience the economic effects of social distancing and shutdown measures for years to come,” the senators wrote. “As we work toward recovery, we urge you to keep the American worker in mind and limit the importation of unnecessary guest workers while American families and businesses get back on their feet.”

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“The United States admits more than one million nonimmigrant guest workers every year, and there is no reason to admit most such workers when our unemployment is so high,” they added.

“Given the extreme lack of available jobs for American job-seekers as portions of our economy begin to reopen, it defies common sense to admit additional foreign guest workers to compete for such limited employment.”

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The letter came as jobless claims soared to nearly 33.5 million after just seven weeks of quarantines and government-mandated business closures, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Despite efforts made by the Trump administration to spur more mildly impacted states on to measured economic reopening, hesitance across the nation in lifting executive public health restrictions has left the owners of many so-called “nonessential” businesses with no choice but to cut staff until further notice.

Roughly 3.2 million more jobless claims were reported last week by the U.S. Department of Labor — a major step down from previous weeks, but still more than 10 times higher than would have been expected in March.

Senate Republicans, however, were not the only ones seeking to press the issue with Trump.

Coming directly on the heels of major economic gains, including a 50-year unemployment low and record stock market highs just months ago, the steady increase in job losses also spurred House GOP members on to action Thursday.

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Led by Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas, Republicans in the lower chamber drafted a similar letter to the president, joining calls for a lengthier and more expansive stay on the issuance of guest worker visas.

Co-signers to the letter included Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Steve King of Iowa, Mo Brooks of South Carolina and several others.

“Before the coronavirus pandemic ravaged our economy, the unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent,” the representatives wrote. “With the unemployment rate at levels unseen since the Great Depression, our government should not be importing the competition of American workers.”

“In addition to the devastating unemployment figures, scores of businesses have had to cease operations. There will still be too few jobs for the millions of recently fired workers when regular activity resumes,” they added.

“Allowing foreign-born guest workers to fill jobs at a time like this is an injustice against unemployed Americans.”

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Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He has since covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal, and now focuses his reporting on Congress and the national campaign trail. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.




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