The Corner

Politics & Policy

Secretary Nielsen, Don’t Make Your Old Boss a Liar

Kirstjen Nielsen on Capitol Hill, November 2017 (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

The immigration provisions of the omnibus monstrosity the president signed on Friday don’t just weaken enforcement — there’s also a sneaky increase in “temporary” foreign work visas.

Last year’s spending bill contained the same gimmick, that allows the secretary of Homeland Security to go beyond the 66,000 annual cap on H-2B visas for seasonal unskilled non-farm workers up to some higher (but not explicitly stated) number, if “the needs of American businesses cannot be satisfied.” The obscure wording in this year’s bill would seem to allow the secretary to admit up to 63,000 extra workers beyond the “cap.” By not specifying an actual number, Congress can avoid accountability, something it excels at.

White House chief of staff John Kelly was DHS secretary last year. He was not inclined to exercise the option to expand the number of visas, but Senator Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) basically blackmailed him by placing a hold on the confirmation of an important subordinate.

Kelly eventually gave in, providing extra visas to “businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary nonagricultural workers” through a “one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.” (Emphasis added.)

The current DHS secretary is Kirstjen Nielsen, who was Kelly’s chief of staff when he made this “one-time” concession. It is now up to her to decide whether to pull the trigger on this crony-capitalist provision (also engineered by Tillis at the behest of North Carolina businesses) to enable U.S. landscaping companies (and golf courses and resorts and wineries) to import contract labor from abroad instead of recruiting American workers. If she does so, Kelly will face awkward questions about last year’s “one-time” decision: Will there be a “one-time” increase next year, too? Should we expect “one-time” increases every year? Does it depend on the meaning of words “one-time”?

P.S.: For a good overview, watch Senator Tom Cotton’s floor speech denouncing the H-2B gimmick in last year’s funding bill:

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

Most Popular


What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More