Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) on Monday blasted President Trump’s plan to issue an additional 30,000 guest-worker visas to foreign laborers in fiscal year 2019.
Under the plan, which is laid out in a temporary rule set to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor will grant the additional visas to workers whose employers who would suffer “irreparable harm” otherwise, and who were employed in the U.S. during the past three fiscal years.
Cotton, often a staunch Trump ally, lamented the administration’s announcement of the plan Monday, saying the “immigration system should prioritize the needs of U.S. citizens over cheap foreign labor.”
“Allowing an additional 30,000 seasonal workers into the country forces Americans to compete for jobs against non-citizens who drag down wages,” Cotton said. “We should be setting immigration policies that support wage growth and employment for Americans instead of encouraging a race to the bottom by importing low-cost labor.”
In the summer of 2017, Cotton cosponsored legislation with Senator David Perdue (R., Ga.) to cut legal immigration in half over the next ten years. Trump endorsed the bill, which would bring annual levels of legal immigration down to 500,000 over the next decade from the present level of roughly 1 million.
Monday’s announcement of an increase in visas for seasonal workers seemed to mark a departure from the immigration stances that have made Trump and Cotton natural allies. It also came amid the ongoing surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which various officials and experts inside and outside the administration have described as a “crisis.” The White House has asked Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency funds to deal with the influx of asylum seekers, but the request has so far been stymied by House Democrats.