President Trump revealed on Tuesday that his executive order pausing most legal immigration in the midst of the Chinese coronavirus crisis will not keep farmers from fast-tracking foreign workers into the country.
During his daily press briefing, Trump said the upcoming executive order to pause immigration to the U.S. will exempt foreign workers arriving through the H-2A visa program that delivers an endless flow of cheap labor to farmers.
“The farmers will not be affected,” Trump said.
Trump said his administration is actually making the process easier for farmers to more quickly get H-2A foreign visa workers into the U.S. — referring to the State and Agriculture Departments’ orders to waive visa requirements and allow visa-holders to stay in the country for more than three years.
“No, the farmers will not be affected by this at all,” Trump said. “If anything, we’re going to make it easier, and we’re doing a process for those workers to come in to go to the farm where they’ve been for a long time.”
Trump said a pause on immigration is necessary, though, to make sure at least 22 million unemployed Americans are not forced to compete against cheaper, foreign workers for U.S. jobs.
“I want our citizens to get jobs. I don’t want them to have competition,” Trump said. “I want the American worker and our American citizens to be able to get jobs. I don’t want them to compete right now.”
The H-2A program allows American farms to import a limitless number of foreign workers and pay them below-average U.S. wages. American farms do not wholly rely on H-2A foreign visa workers to fill agricultural jobs, as the foreign workers make up only about ten percent of the total U.S. crop farm workforce. Last year, U.S. farmers hired roughly 250,000 H-2A foreign visa workers.
In 2017, H-2A foreign visa workers picking crops were paid about two percent less than their American counterparts. Likewise, foreign visa workers operating agricultural equipment were paid 23 percent less than the national average U.S. wage. The largest wage discrepancy comes with H-2A foreign visa workers who take jobs as first-line supervisors for farming and fishing. They are paid about 95 percent less than their American counterparts.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.