The Homeland Security bill that quietly passed the House Appropriations Committee last month includes many good features, such as more money for building the southwest border wall. But in keeping with the Congressional GOP’s singular obsession with importing cheap foreign labor, it also includes a massive expansion in guest-worker visas. And committee Republicans OK’d the provision despite protests from others in their own party. This shows how deeply addicted many Republicans are to cheap foreign labor. Even as they rant and rave about the border invasion, several are desperately trying to import scab labor. Those workers will overwhelmingly vote Democrat, so the provision isn’t just bad for American workers: It’s political suicide.
The Republican-controlled committee claimed that the 90-page bill would help America take control of the southwest border and suggested that it was solely about stopping Biden’s Great Replacement Invasion [Committee Approves FY24 Homeland Security Bill, Appropriations.House.gov, June 21, 2023].
The bill, they said in the above press release:
Given that the United States has sent $75 billion to Ukraine [How Much Aid Has the U.S. Sent Ukraine? Here Are Six Charts], by Jonathan Masters and Will Merrow, CFR.org, July 10, 2023], immigration patriots might ask why committee Republicans devoted a mere $7 billion to border security and less than a third of that total to build a wall.
And curiously left unmentioned in the committee news release is the guest-worker expansion. By amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to weaken the rules governing H-2A visas, the bill would allow corporations to import more cheap foreign labor and ensure the “migrant” workers are no longer temporary, with a three-year limit on working and living here. Thanks to Birthright Citizenship, many can already stay longer if they drop Anchor Babies. But this bill will allow foreign workers to stay as long as their employer wants, no Anchor Babies required. It would also greatly expand the number of H-2B visas that cover temporary, non-agricultural laborers. Foreign workers who arrived in the past three years would no longer be counted in the cap of 66,000 on imported labor. This new framework would allow corporations to import as many as 200,000 annually.
So the plan stifles innovation, undermines American workers. It only serves the bottom line of Big Ag and Big Business. “This is a way to push off mechanization indefinitely when you have relatively compliant, affordable labor,” NumbersUSA’s Roy Beck told Breitbart. “The people who broker these visa programs advertise it as ‘It will save you money’” [Republicans Slip Massive Foreign Worker Expansion into DHS Funding Bill, by John Binder, Breitbart, July 10, 2023].
Even the Heritage Foundation—flagship think tank for Conservatism, Inc.—opposes it:
Strike both sections that increase and expand the H-2A (temporary agriculture work) and H-2B (temporary, seasonal non-agricultural work) visas. Such substantive changes to legal immigration programs should be debated and voted on in the authorizing committees, not snuck into an appropriations bill.
[FY 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill Is Strongest in Years, But Has Room for Improvement, by Lora Ries and RJ Haumann, July 14, 2023]
With millions of illegal immigrants crossing the Southern border and thousands of Americans dying from fentanyl poisoning, it’s time for real action to secure the border.@lora_ries & @rjhauman of @Heritage on the House Republicans’ DHS funding bill.⬇https://t.co/3RFrQq9Wpb pic.twitter.com/bnJ2TA2yxI— Heritage Action (@Heritage_Action) July 18, 2023
At least one Republican on the appropriations committee tried to kneecap the amendment. Georgia’s Andrew Clyde tried to strip out the expansion of H-2A visas. But Dan Newhouse of Washington state and David Valadao of California stopped him. These two “moderate” Republicans, who represent rural districts, said Clyde was wrong because they had never heard a farmer call for limiting work visas.
Their argument apparently swayed the committee. Two reporters for the Washington Post called them “pragmatic” for opposing the “extreme agenda” of the far right—pragmatic being implicit praise for Republicans who fight immigration patriots [House Republicans scared to lose majority push back on extreme agenda, by Marianna Sotomayor and Leigh Ann Caldwell, July 2, 2023].
Pragmatism isn’t what the GOP base wants. Seventy-three percent of Republicans want immigration decreased; only a mere 10 percent want it increased [Americans Still Value Immigration, but Have Concerns, by Lydia Saad, Gallup, July 13, 2023].
Yet some of their lawmakers are stubbornly on the opposite side. That’s due to big donor support. The Chamber of Commerce endorsed the guest-worker provision:
Small and seasonal businesses across America are genuinely concerned about their inability to meet work force needs domestically. The Chamber supports the inclusion of measures that will provide cap relief for the employers of H-2B nonimmigrants. The additional visas will provide these businesses not only with the ability to meet their seasonal workforce needs, but also the added certainty that will allow their company to grow and create more jobs for American workers.
[U.S. Chamber Letter on Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations Legislation, by Timothy Maney, June 21, 2023]
That corporate influence and pressure ensures that increasing the number of guest workers stays a top priority for Republicans. Several deep-red states are begging for more “migrant” laborers, including Utah, Idaho, and North Dakota. Some states are creating offices dedicated to recruiting more foreigners. Others are offering lucrative subsidies. All of them are united on the “need” for more cheap foreign labor.
That unanimity inspired Republican attempts to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This deceptively named Amnesty would have legalized illegal aliens involved in the agricultural industry and turned them into indentured servants. Of course, it merely serves the interests of Big Ag.
Thirty House Republicans voted for the bill in 2021, including Newhouse and Valadao. The pair were among the nine congressmen who reintroduced the bill just a few weeks ago. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the solution to creating a secure, reliable agriculture labor program to provide certainty to our farmers and ranchers for a stable and legal workforce for years to come,” Newhouse said [Newhouse Reintroduces Farm Workforce Modernization Act, Newhouse.House.gov, July 3, 2023].
Newhouse and Valadao might be the worst Republicans in the House. They support not only the Big Ag–Big Business Amnesty but also Amnesty for Dreamers. They’re also the only two House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump and remained in Congress [Of 10 Republicans Who Voted to Impeach Trump After Capitol Riot, Only 2 Might Remain in Congress, by Ken Bredemeier, Voice of America, August 17, 2022]. It’s no surprise that they would hinder any efforts to prioritize American workers when it comes to immigration.
Their traitorous immigration prerogatives should be a reason to primary both of them.
But they’re not alone. Even when Donald Trump was president, several Republicans tried to increase guest-worker visas. In 2020, the entire GOP congressional delegation from North Carolina begged Trump to give away more H-2B visas. Then-Georgia Senator David Perdue, who sponsored legislation to reduce legal immigration, also urged him to increase the visas. This all took place while millions of Americans were out of work because of the WuFlu lockdown. Republican squishes never fail to find a crisis to push for more immigration [GOP Lawmakers Asked Trump for Low-Wage, Migrant Worker Visas, by Lee Fang, Intercept, August 26, 2020].
Still, the bill probably won’t pass. Democrats oppose it because it funds border security and committee Democrats disavowed it [House Republicans Pass Homeland Security Bill that Leaves Communities Less Safe, Democrats-Appropriations.House.gov, June 21, 2023]. Even if House Republicans pass it, it likely can’t get through the Senate. And Traitor Joe would never sign it.
That makes pushing this guest-worker bonanza for Big Ag and the Chamber of Commerce even more ridiculous. The package’s purpose: to send a political message. Republicans wanted to show what they care about, and offer concrete ideas to secure the southwest border. But some just couldn’t help themselves and inserted a guest-worker increase.
That’s ominous. Even in bills meant to send the message that Republicans will stop the illegal-alien invasion, they still demand more legal immigration.
Clearly, Republicans must improve. Those who want to demonstrate their immigration bona fides must protect American workers and get the scab-worker provision stripped from the bill—or at least vote against it.
It’s time to send a loud and clear message to the Big Ag and the Chamber: no more cheap labor. Hire Americans.
Washington Watcher II [Email him] is an anonymous DC insider.