DHS approves 15,000 more H-2B visas for temporary and seasonal immigrant workers in 2017

When the White House proclaimed this “Made in America” week, apparently what they meant was “made in America by foreigners.”

If you missed it on Saturday, enjoy Jazz’s post on the shortage of H-2B visas that forced one Maine resort town to — gasp — hire American workers to get through the summer. Good news, I guess: There’s no longer a shortage.

The Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced a one-time increase of 15,000 additional visas for low-wage, seasonal workers for the remainder of this fiscal year, a seeming about-face from President Trump’s “Hire American” rhetoric, following heavy lobbying from the fisheries, hospitality and other industries that rely on temporary foreign workers.

The increase represents a 45 percent bump from the number of H-2B visas normally issued for the second half of the fiscal year, said senior Homeland Security officials in a call with reporters Monday…

Asked how allowing more foreign workers aligns with Trump’s America First policies — especially as the White House kicks off what it has promoted as “Made in America” week — one of the Homeland Security officials said the increase “absolutely does” fit in with Trump’s campaign promises.

“We’re talking about American businesses that are at risk of suffering irreparable harm if they don’t get additional H-2B workers,” he said. “This does help with American businesses continuing to prosper.”

Mark Krikorian defines “irreparable harm”:

How did we end up with this fiasco, in which the “America First” president ends up boosting the importation of immigrants to do seasonal work? It all started with that garbage spending bill that Trump signed back in May. You remember it — it was a Democratic wish list, essentially, with no wall money, no cuts to sanctuary cities, and plenty of funding for Planned Parenthood. Also buried in there amid the avalanche of other federal spending was a provision granting DHS discretionary authority to double the number of H-2B visas granted this year, from 66,000 to 135,000. “It is a sellout [of] the American worker,” said the executive director of FAIR at the time. Still, the grant was merely discretionary. John Kelly didn’t need to increase the number of visas.

So why’d he end up doing it? That’s where Thom Tillis, a Republican, enters the picture:

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina has put a “hold” on Lee Francis Cissna, the nominee for director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to try to pressure Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly to bend to the senator’s will and quickly approve thousands of H-2B visas.

Mr. Tillis is one of a number of senators who say their states’ summertime resort, seafood and landscaping industries are struggling to find American workers and need the foreign labor to survive.

That’s from a Wash Times story dated a week ago. Kelly duly caved, approved 15,000 new visas, and no doubt Cissna is now headed for an easy confirmation. Which raises a question: Why didn’t Trump pick a public fight with Tillis over the H-2B issue? Is he afraid of alienating the local Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina, a state he won by a whisker last year? Is he afraid of alienating Tillis before the big health-care vote, never mind that Tillis would have to explain to Republicans back home why he refused to vote for a bill that would have replaced ObamaCare out of pique over the H-2B issue? Or does Trump simply … not have a big problem with H-2B visas? He was asked about this during the primaries, you may recall. Remember how he answered?