Amid record-low approval ratings for the Trump administration, the White House launched “Made in America” week on Monday, a public relations blitz meant to refocus the president’s public agenda and re-energize his base.
But as President Donald Trump kicked off his U.S. tour showcasing made-in-America products, his administration quietly acted to allow an extra 15,000 visas for temporary workers this year.
So-called H2B visas are for non-agricultural guest workers. Landscaping companies, the tourism industry and other seasonal businesses rely on them every year to bring in much-needed cheap labour, especially in the summer months.
WATCH: U.S. reveals NAFTA goals
Though U.S. law caps the annual limit for this type of visa at 66,000, the executive branch routinely authorizes more work permits to help U.S. employers who say they can’t find Americans willing to take on those jobs.
Trump himself has reportedly run up against that labour shortage. His family’s companies, including his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida, regularly apply for H2B visas, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Trump has lambasted the U.S.’s H1B visa for highly skilled workers, which the country’s tech giants use to hire foreign tech talent. However, the president has remained virtually silent about the H2B work permit.
READ MORE: Donald Trump calls free trade ‘stupid trade’
Trump defended his companies’ reliance on the visas in a presidential debate last March, saying it is “very, very hard to get people” to fill those jobs, which included cooks, housekeepers and facility maintenance workers.
“Other hotels do the exact same thing,” Trump added.
Asked about how bringing in more temporary foreign workers is consistent with the president’s “Hire American” policy, a senior U.S. government official noted that U.S. companies applying for the visa must demonstrate they would suffer “irreparable harm” from not being able to recruit additional workers. “This does help with American businesses continuing to prosper.”
But that, in general, is the argument for most work visas.