WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress’ deal to fund the government through the end of September represents a thoughtful compromise for American workers, businesses and immigrants. Yet additional steps are needed to build an immigration system that truly serves American workers and their families.
Congress is expected to vote later this week on the measure, which omits funds for a border wall, adds visas for Afghans who assisted U.S. military forces and maintains refugee resettlement funding at current levels. The proposal continues to fund workforce and education programs that help American workers, including immigrants.
The agreement also includes an additional $1.5 billion in spending for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), intended for maintaining current infrastructure, enhancing technology at the border and funding immigration detention.
A separate provision would allow DHS Secretary John Kelly to increase the number of H-2B visas for temporary, seasonal workers to nearly 130,000 for this fiscal year. This increase comes as businesses across the country — particularly in the hospitality, landscaping and restaurant industries — continue to struggle to find temporary workers as the summer tourism season approaches.
“This budget is a thoughtful compromise that advances our nation’s security and economic needs,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “While visa programs, including the H-2B program, certainly are important, Congress should work with the business community to ensure that undocumented immigrants currently contributing to our economic well-being are able to work legally and contribute fully. Otherwise, the undocumented worker population, and the native-born worker next to them, is subject to the whims of unscrupulous employers. The fastest way to economic growth that serves American workers and their families is through immigration reforms that level the playing field so all workers are competing for the same job at the same wage.”