Jared Kushner’s new immigration adviser has hardliners worried that he will move to increase the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country.
Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, has tapped former farm lobbyist Kristi Boswell to work with him as he formulates an immigration reform package. However, as a former lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation and a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Boswell’s background has some immigration hawks concerned.
In need of cheap labor to work the farms, the agriculture lobby has long fought to bring in more temporary employees from outside the country. As recently as this month, Boswell pushed the California Farm Bureau Federation to speak on the need for improvements to the H-2A visas, which allow foreign nationals to work temporarily or seasonally on U.S. farms.
“Every time meaningful employment and wage protections for American workers are finally within reach as part of an immigration reform proposal, agriculture lobbyists swoop in to gut the enforcement provisions or demand greater access to cheap foreign labor,” government relations director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), RJ Hauman, said to McClatchy. “This has gone on for three decades.”
The concerns come as Kushner is finishing a major immigration reform proposal.
Trump’s son-in-law is formulating a, more-or-less, two-pronged approach: Beef up border security while also limiting family-based immigration in favor of a merit-based system. The reforms would limit illegal and low-skilled immigration while encouraging more high-skilled foreign nationals to enter the country.
Kushner’s plan does address temporary worker programs, and he has met with business groups to address their labor demands. However, Kushner has assured others that his plan will be “neutral” on total immigration numbers, meaning that the total number of migrants would not rise or fall, according to Axios.
Kushner, who has also huddled with top GOP senators over the plan, expects to present a legislative package to the president within the coming days. In the meantime, the specifics of his temporary visa reforms remain unclear.
“Secretary Perdue serves at the pleasure of President Trump and should be a champion of his immigration agenda,” Hauman continued. “He wasn’t nominated to be an in-house voice for employers who take advantage of low-wage illegal workers and seek to block the very reforms his boss ran on.”
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