REUTERS – US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies have attracted scrutiny, with a number of US senators calling for his administration to halt H-2B visas for high-skilled foreign workers.
The Senate on Tuesday also passed a bipartisan bill to expand the H1-B visa program, which was designed to bring skilled workers from low-wage countries to the US.
The legislation also requires the administration to report on any significant increase in the number of H-3 visas for foreign workers and is expected to pass the Senate later this week.
The White House on Tuesday said it was aware of the senator’s comments and that they were intended to be a compliment.
“I think that this is a very thoughtful statement from Senator Schumer that I applaud,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
“We’re going to make sure that we do the right thing and we make sure we enforce the law, but we are going to do what we can to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
“I would encourage Senator Schumer to keep her feet on the ground and keep talking to the American people and trying to make things better for American workers,” he added.
Trump in March called for the US to increase the H2-B quota of 100,000 visas a year, a plan that has drawn fierce opposition from unions and lawmakers.
Trump, who has said he wants to hire as many Americans as possible and has suggested that the US is losing a generation of talented Americans, has called for Congress to reform the H3 visa program and said the bill is necessary to do that.
The Republican-controlled Senate on Friday approved legislation to allow some US companies to hire foreign workers, a step that could be a major boost to US job growth in the coming years.
The H-5 visas for skilled workers, which were introduced in 2006, have a two-year waiting period for their application to be approved.