Last June, as part of the response to the pandemic, President Trump imposed a ban on new H1-B visas. For those not familiar, that program allows employers to bring skilled, nonimmigrant workers into the country to fill jobs that the employer allegedly can’t fill with citizens. It was a sensible decision, both in terms of preventing additional COVID cases from arriving on our shores and the fact that so many people were unemployed that employers shouldn’t have had any trouble finding workers to fill their ranks here at home. But for some reason, according to one source who spoke to Bloomberg this week, Joe Biden has decided to allow the ban to expire and kick the program back into gear.
President Joe Biden plans to allow a pandemic-related ban on visas for certain temporary workers, enacted by former President Donald Trump, to expire Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter.
The moratorium, which affected H-1B visas used by technology companies to hire foreign coders and engineers, was imposed last June. Biden is opting not to renew it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been announced. The White House declined to comment.
Biden’s decision will please business groups from Silicon Valley giants to India’s IT services leaders, which had pressured the administration to lift the ban ever since the new president took office. Executives have grown frustrated that the directive was not immediately revoked, arguing it hurt U.S. companies.
I’m not entirely opposed to the entire H-1B program in principle, though I have long felt that it requires a lot more oversight and penalties for employers who abuse it to the detriment of available American workers. It’s conceivable, particularly during times of high employment and a strong economy that some specialty fields would have a lack of qualified applicants.
But with that said, none of those conditions apply at the moment. Aren’t we still being told that everyone needs to restrain themselves to prevent another surge in the virus numbers while we try to get everyone vaccinated? Are we not being warned about the dangers of the various variants of the virus that are coming in from other countries? And while the unemployment situation is beginning to ease up slightly, there are still massive numbers of people out of work.
Even if you’re going to enforce mandatory COVID testing and quarantines on any arriving H-1B workers, why would you take the risk? There have to be a lot of people out there who have lost their jobs who would love a shot at one of these skilled positions that the companies pushing for H-1B access supposedly can’t fill. Until we’re back up to something near the employment levels we enjoyed prior to February of last year, it’s preposterous to start shipping in imported talent.
This is just another example of Joe Biden recklessly moving to wipe out all of the policy positions of the Bad Orange Man. This is how the crisis at the border wound up overtaking us. Further, the pressure to allow the ban to lapse is largely coming from the tech sector, an industry that has donated heavily to Democrats and used its influence to spread liberal dogma in most cases. Is this some sort of payback plan for a politically favored class being delivered despite the obviously flawed logic behind it?
If Biden is really going to do this, it should only be done if additional oversight is put in place. Every company applying for new H-1B visas should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny that is transparent to the public. If they supposedly can’t find people to fill those jobs, make them prove it.