Trump Suspends Nonimmigrant Visa in Appeal to Reactionary Base

By Nélida Tello

On Monday, imperialist President Donald Trump announced the suspension of new temporary work visas; H-1B, L-1, and J until January 2021, leaving open the possibility of extending the suspension.

The move will impact more than 500,000 nonimmigrant workers and will disproportionately target Indian nonimmigrants on the H-1B visa. The effects of the executive order will be felt in 2021, as the issuance of visas will occur in October for the 2021 fiscal year.

The H-1B visa is issued to immigrants in STEM who seek work in the technology industry, while the L-1 visa allows intracompany transfers to the US, the J visa gives students work-study opportunities. Au pairs (immigrant childcare workers) will also be impacted with the new visa suspension, with case by case exception.

The new executive order will extend the 60 day suspension of green cards until 2021. Trump’s latest attack on immigration follows his attempt to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which was turned down by the Supreme Court, but the court sided with Trump in its ruling preventing asylum seekers from appealing deportation orders.

The anti-immigrant policy was orchestrated by fascist and senior Trump advisor Stephen Miller, who has ties to ultra-right news outlet Breitbart, Peter Brimelow founder of white supremacist website VDARE, American Renaissance, and Richard Spencer, one of the main organizers of Unite the Right in Charlottesville in 2017. Miller has lauded the Immigration Act of 1924, which placed racial quotes on immigration, to justify Trump’s current anti-immigrant agenda.

Stephen Miller

Capitalists in general have a vested interest in keeping temporary visas accessible and have opposed their suspension. Corporations like Apple, Facebook, and Google undercut wages by outsourcing labor to immigrants, who are paid among the lowest of wage-earners. Agricultural workers, some of the most vulnerable and exploited laborers in the US, will be allowed to continue working under the H-2B visa.

The Trump administration has stated that the suspension of visas will increase job opportunities for Americans by eliminating immigrant competition, scapegoating the health crisis as the reason for the economic depression. Trump strategically continues to appeal to his backward and reactionary base, justifying anti-immigration policies to garner support for his re-election come November.