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Limiting Legal Immigration Makes Labor Shortage Worse

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on January 14, 2019

Businesses in Illinois are suffering from a labor shortage in part because of the limits that the Trump Administration has placed on legal immigration. The government has been delaying approvals of work visas, requesting additional information, and denying more applicants. Businesses have stated that they have struggled to fill their open positions because they cannot hire the foreign workers they need and there are not enough qualified U.S. workers for the jobs. Other companies that offer seasonal work such as landscaping companies are taking fewer jobs and requiring their other workers to increase their workloads.

How Legal Immigration Is Limited

President Trump has been unable to get the limits placed on legal immigration that he wants from Congress. A bill that was proposed by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue would have halved legal immigration, but the Republican leadership did not allow the bill to progress.

Some lawmakers have said that Trump has been using the administrative immigration process to effectively limit legal immigration in several ways. He signed an executive order in April 2017 that directed officials in the government to enforce immigration laws rigorously. Because his legislative efforts to curtail legal immigration have failed, lawmakers say that he has instead increased the red tape that businesses must go through to get the foreign workers that they need.

The National Foundation for American Policy reviewed data from the government and found that denials of H-1B visas increased by 41 percent during the last three months of 2017 as compared to the previous three months. Requests for more information from applicants doubled during the same time period.

Problems for Businesses

Businesses have complained that the increased red tape and increased denials have caused them to experience shortages during a time when unemployment has fallen to 3.9 percent. Businesses have been forced to turn down work and to make their existing employees work longer hours to make up for the shortages. Over the long-term, experts state that as more baby boomers retire, the shortage will worsen. If limits continue to be placed on legal immigration, huge gaps will be left in the labor market. This could cause harm to companies, and some of them might fail. It could also cause negative impacts on the U.S. economy as a whole. The problem exists for both highly skilled and low-skilled workers.