Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Tuesday blasted an Obama administration proposal to create up to 100,000 more guest worker permits for the spouses of foreign workers, calling it a plan that would keep 100,000 Americans from finding jobs.
“Fifty million working-age Americans aren’t working,” said Sessions, an outspoken critic of Democratic immigration plans. “Yet the administration is now going to immediately add almost 100,000 new guest workers to compete against unemployed Americans.
“It is good news for citizens in other countries who will be hired,” he added. “But for struggling Americans, it will only reduce wages, lower job opportunities, and make it harder to scrape by.”
Sessions was reacting to a Tuesday announcement from the Department of Homeland Security that it would extend employment authorization to spouses of some foreign workers in the United States, which could allow up to 100,000 more people to take jobs in the United States. DHS cast the plan as one that would help economic growth in the United States.
“These steps will help the U.S. maintain competitiveness with other countries in our efforts to attract the best and the brightest high-skilled workers from around the world to support companies here at home,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “Businesses continue to need these high-skilled workers, and these rules ensure we do not cede the upper hand to other countries competing for the same talent.”
DHS and the Department of Commerce are announcing the change as a proposed rule, and seeking public comment on it.
Specifically, the rule would extend work authorization to spouses of some H-1B visa holders, who are skilled technical workers who are allowed to work in the United States.
The rule would also make it easier for highly skilled workers to stay in the country, including by letting some of them stay in the country for up to 240 additional days beyond what is specified on their work permit.
Sessions said announcement is the wrong move at a time when half of all college graduates are underemployed, and one-third of black teens are unemployed. A statement from Sessions’ office said there are thousands of Americans who are qualified to take some of the high-skilled jobs now being held by foreign nationals.
“Who does the administration represent?” Sessions asked.