WASHINGTON — Four Republican senators asked President Donald Trump to suspend further issuance of guest worker visas until next year or "until employment has returned to normal levels" because of the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the economy.
The senators, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, argued in a letter dated May 7, first reported on by Politico, that the visa suspensions would be "critical to protecting American workers as our economy gets back on its feet."
They requested a halt to all non-immigrant guest worker visas for 60 days, with exceptions granted for agriculture and other critical industries. Following the 60 days, the senators said they wanted a halt placed on the following visa categories:H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal workers like ski resort employeesH-1B visas for "specialty positions"Optional Practical Training, which extends student visas after graduation EB-5 investor visas
The senators said American students would be forced to compete against international students in a tight job market, and the suspension of the visa categories would give younger Americans and recent college graduates the opportunity to compete for jobs that might otherwise go to immigrants.
They urged Trump in their letter to "keep the American worker in mind" and "limit the importation of unnecessary guest workers" while the economy recovered.
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The senators' letter comes as the Trump administration has moved to further restrict immigration during the coronavirus pandemic by limiting travel into the USA, stopping most visa processing and speeding up the return of undocumented workers to their home countries.
Trump signed an executive order creating immigration restrictions in late April, but the executive order provided exemptions for agriculture, health care, public safety and other industries.
Contributing: David Jackson and Michael Collins