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The Trump administration is still soliciting immigrants for specific jobs despite droves of Americans filing for unemployment.

It is urging medical professionals to contact a U.S. embassy to move their application process along, cognizant of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping America.

It is easing requirements for immigrants to get jobs as farm workers, landscapers and crab pickers, aware that industries, including those that fill grocery store shelves, could be hurt if they couldn’t hire foreign employees.

And until facing criticism this week, it had been moving ahead with a 35,000-person increase in the number of seasonal workers in part for expected job openings at resorts and golf courses after the pandemic releases its grip on the economy.

Activists are irate that Trump hasn’t backed down more. But business leaders say it’s needed to stabilize a cratering economy.

Indeed, Trump faces immense pressure to prop up the economy — both during and after the coronavirus outbreak. And he’s adopting an approach the business community has long pushed: Recruit workers for perennially empty jobs, even if they’re not American workers. Business leaders say that even during the coronavirus crisis, foreign workers are critical to companies that might be unable to find enough unemployed Americans willing to take certain jobs, especially if those people can collect more money via jobless benefits.

“There’s still a need for these types of workers,” said one business industry representative in touch with the administration.

But the move poses political risks for the president, with hard-line immigration activists baffled that Trump would choose a moment of financial peril — with unemployment skyrocketing and a reelection campaign around the corner — to turn to foreign workers.

“It’s reprehensible,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates more immigration restrictions. “Specifically importing workers into jobs unemployed Americans would be doing is absurd.”

A Department of Homeland Security official said the administration’s moves were surprising given the “soaring unemployment rate.” A record-shattering 6.6 million people filed for their first unemployment benefits last week, as scores of industries have fully shuttered during the pandemic. Read more

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