Small businesses across the U.S. are facing shortages of temporary workers because of the Trump administration’s new limits on hiring foreign workers through a visa program, NBC News reported Monday.
Hundreds of smaller businesses are facing increased demand for temporary workers, but can’t find them because of numerical caps put in place on the number of H-2B visas available for them to hire foreign workers on a seasonal basis. This is why many Republicans are not in favor of Trump’s immigration crackdown.
“If I can fill my workforce with local guys, I would do that. I want to hire Americans first because it’s easier for me, but most of the American workers don’t want temporary jobs,” said Matt Davis, a Texas landscaping business owner and Trump supporter.
The Trump administration last year changed the H-2B visa program to a lottery system which now makes it difficult for businesses which rely on foreign workers to meet their customers needs and demands.
In addition to the lottery system change, the number of visas available through the program was reduced to just 66,000, which is a very small number for the entire country. And to make things worse for the small business owners, the number of available guest-worker visas is now being split between the summer and winter seasons. This has severely reduced the number of workers who are available to American businesses at a given time, and has left many of them coming up short.
President Trump has been touting his “America First” agenda during campaign rallies and at White House events. He apparently has gained a lot of support from his unsophisticated supporters who don’t know that immigrant workers are the backbones of many American industries and are need to keep the economy going. He was always talking on the campaign trail about his goal of putting American workers above immigrants seeking jobs, but he himself wasn’t aware how he would end up killing many of the businesses whose owners supported him.
In other words, neither Trump nor his voters knew what they were saying, or doing, in the area of immigration restrictions.
The Trump Organization itself has on many occasions sought to hire temporary foreign workers through the same H-2B visa program that it is now restricting. These workers are needed for seasonal fluctuations in work at Trump resorts and hotels.
Even as he has limited immigrant workers for American small businesses Trump himself has been hiring these immigrants for his own properties. He pushed “America First” and “Hire American” as policy priorities, and said that small businesses are critically important “in creating a safe, strong and prosperous America.”
But newly released industry figures, as well as interviews with business owners, make clear that the current H-2B visa limits are severely hurting the very people Trump says he wants to help.
Many jobs going unfilled now involve back-breaking labor that U.S. workers don’t want to do, the small business owners said.
Without enough guest immigrant workers the burden is greatly increased on full-time American employees also, causing the business owners even more labor problems.
Many have been going to Washington and writing letters to
their representatives telling them that they may go bankrupt if the visa program isn’t fixed very soon.
One such business owner, George Hohman, is very pessimistic about what the future holds for him and his Ohio-based landscaping business.
He said that many of his regular customers have already switched to his competitors, so he had to terminate a contract with a local marketing company and close a satellite office.
He’s also seen his recruitment costs skyrocket as he’s tried to find new workers. The net result is that he is forecasting his business will lose about $250,000.
“We lost a bunch of revenue that we won’t get back,” Hohman told NBC News. “We’re in damage control mode right now.” He also said that the government has not done enough to listen to the plight of seasonal businesses that rely on the foreign visa program, and believes that the immigration debate has hindered reform efforts.
“Do I think they’re doing enough? Absolutely not. Have they heard from us? Absolutely, they have,” Hohman said. “President Trump’s companies use H-2B, and he’s gotten his visas for his companies. I feel like we are pawns in the immigration reform debate.”
No wonder Trump’s approval ratings on immigration are at an all-time low. By doing just what he wants to do he is hurting the very people who elected him to office, and chances are they will have their revenge this fall.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.