The Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia defends new visa restrictions for foreign workers

Construction worker

We’ve made a lot of headway in getting people back to work since March. We added 2.5 million jobs through the middle of May, but we still have ways to go, and part of how we get there is giving every opportunity for American workers to be hired.

It is the important proclamation the President signed Monday did two things: it’s going to pause and then lead to reform.

The pause is to suspend til the end of the year people coming in as you’re saying on these H-1B visas so that American workers have a chance at those jobs. We really need to do all we can now to put Americans back to work.

Now, for critical food supply jobs of medical care jobs or when there’s a strong economic rationale they’re going to be exceptions, but we really want to give the first opportunity to American workers.

The second reform is that we’re not bringing in the next Michael Jordan on these H-1B visas right now. They’re going to lower-level jobs, and we want to fix that as well.

Ironically, that H-1B program that we see and that will bring about is much like the ones that the tech executives say we should have.

It’s one that does focus on the really unusually high performers from overseas, and we certainly want that talent.

We’re bringing people in at entry-level jobs, they’re getting paid less than often American workers doing the same work. So we want to increase that entry-level wage, so we’re bringing in higher capital people who are not undercutting Americans on price.

We want to put a shorter time limit on how long somebody can be in on an entry-level wage. If you’ve been here two and a half years, you shouldn’t be entry-level anymore and that wage rate ought to be adjusted upward.

And then finally, there are occasions where one company will bring workers in on H-1B visas, and then those workers will go work at another company and actually replace the US workers. That’s not right.

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