Worker visas for this writing are limited to H-2B visas which are unskilled seasonal labor and H-1B which are skilled workers.
The H-1B category was created by congress in 1990. It allows employers to hire foreign workers on a “temporary” basis for “special occupations.” This includes the visas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The maximum number allowed is not to exceed 85,000 to be in the country at any given period of time. Yet there is an unlimited number allowed in academia and in nonprofit fields. The intended purpose is noble. Sadly, some employers in their greed have undermined the American worker.
Prevailing wage is a stipulation of H-1B. Prevailing wage is based upon the employer’s description of the job and not on the employee’s skill level. Employers can replace Americans with cheaper foreign workers by claiming the position is different from the displaced American workers regardless of actual job responsibilities. Employers hire foreign over American. This is not the intent of H-1B policy. About 80% of H-1B workers are paid less than the median wage in their fields wage according to the White House Press Office.
From my current vantage point, it would seem to me that there is an adequate supply of STEM trained workers in America so that hiring foreign labor is unnecessary. Employers do not want workers to take advantage of them; employees do not want employers to take advantage of them either! A man is worth his wage.
A guest worker program is absolutely necessary in the area of agriculture. Agriculture must have unskilled seasonal labor available. A few years ago congress was grappling with this problem along with the problem of illegal migration into America. I attended the two congressional subcommittee hearings held in California. When the issue of the guest worker was discussed the Minutemen stormed the front of the auditorium in outrage. Some of them were yelling that welfare recipients should be doing the field work. After the very large number of sheriff deputies restored order, a member of congress from the Central Valley agricultural area addressed the issue. He stated the fact that a U.S. senator from California had initiated a “Welfare to Work” program some years back. It was a dismal failure. Welfare recipients simply will not work. The Minutemen responded by stating that Welfare just pays too much. This same member of congress then said, “None of us present is rearing our children to work the fields.” Silent reflection ensued.
I have also carried on discussions with those who advocate more mechanization in agriculture. This approach is being pursued by creative inventors but commercial availability is a few years off into the future.
The progress in agricultural mechanization can be admired by spending a couple of days at the Tulare, California World Ag Expo held every February for three days. You’ll be mesmerized.
The failure of Welfare to Work: A few welfare recipients reported to the fields. Most didn’t make it to noon. Few returned the next day; within a few days, no one showed up for work. What is the grower to do? The crop is ripening but there is no one to work. But what the grower saw was broken branches, trampled ground plants, ripe fruit, and vegetables on the plants and unripe produce in the crates. The loss to the farmer was heartbreaking. The senator went on with her “solutions” while the farmer suffered the loss.
H-2B visas for unskilled seasonal labor are needed especially in agriculture. A seasonal proviso is that the worker can only do farm work. Day labor in town is strictly outlawed and if discovered, must lead to immediate deportation. This enforcement is to be at the offender’s expense.
Congress increased the number of available H-2B visas in 2016 to 264,000. This was done by “exempting returning workers from the previous 3 years cap.” This is referenced in NumbersUSA, April 24, 2017.