How Bidenomics is breaking our border security and our budgets

The top two issues concerning voters this year are inflation and illegal immigration — both of which remain stubbornly high under President Joe Biden. One overlooked factor in both of these crises has been the administration’s throttling of legal immigration.

For example, last year Biden enacted regulations that made it far more difficult for farmers to legally hire agricultural workers through the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program. Despite the fact that farmers are already required to pay H-2A workers above the average wage that U.S. farmhands make, Biden’s new rule is now forcing them to pay their employees as full-time truckers and construction workers if they spend as little as one minute driving a truck or mending a fence. Small growers reported that this policy change is costing them more than $100,000 each season.

Another one of Biden’s regulations will force farmers to allow labor unions to trespass on their private property and pressure their employees into unionizing. Making unions a fixture of the visa process could be the last straw that pushes smaller farmers out of the agricultural industry entirely. According to a recent survey of fruit and vegetable growers, more than half reported that they are considering growing less food to cope with labor shortages. Meanwhile, grocery prices remain 25% higher than they were in 2019.

What’s especially troubling is that Biden’s sabotage of H-2A visas does not just harm our food prices — it also fuels the crisis at the border. When U.S. job vacancies grow, so do illegal border crossings. Increasing work visa opportunities helps control the flow by allowing migrants to wait in line for a sponsor and come legally.

But instead of improving the work visa process, the Biden administration is making things worse.

For example, the administration also dramatically hiked the fees that employers must pay to hire legal immigrants — to pay the costs for border crossers requesting asylum. This will not just harm farmers but also landscapers, hospitals, semiconductor manufacturers, and various other industries. Some firms are paying nearly $50,000 in government fees and legal costs just to sponsor and retain foreign engineers. The fee for a business to merely sponsor a skilled employee through the visa lottery has surged by 2,050%.

And as employers are paying the government more money, bureaucratic backlogs have grown longer for those trying to hire foreign talent.

In the second quarter of fiscal 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor took roughly 96 days to certify a green card application. So far in fiscal 2024, it is taking the DOL a whopping 397 days.

With these ballooning backlogs, it’s no wonder why roughly 76% of U.S. employers who recruit abroad plan to offshore their hiring due to U.S. immigration barriers. These restrictions will likely lead to countries such as Canada, India, and China reaping the benefits of new jobs and inventions that would have otherwise been created on U.S. soil.

If the Biden administration does nothing to change course on immigration, the growing bureaucratic backlogs will deter top talent from choosing the U.S. as their destination. Despite nearly three-fourths of international students wanting to remain in the U.S. after graduation, the U.S. manages to only retain 41% due to restrictive visa pathways.

This is a serious economic loss. International students are twice as likely as U.S.-born citizens to start businesses that employ 10 or more people. And despite comprising just 16% of U.S. inventors, immigrants file roughly 30% of the country’s patents. Refusing to update policies to retain these people is akin to throwing money and jobs away.


The economic research has been clear that higher levels of immigration have already helped prevent inflation from being even worse than it is now. Many of those coming illegally would rather do so the right way and find work in the U.S., but the Biden administration’s hostility to employment visas incentivizes them to cross illegally and puts them in a situation that delays their contributions and increases their dependency after they arrive. Meanwhile, skilled immigrants are choosing to apply their talents to other countries that have successfully streamlined their systems.

It is abundantly clear that America benefits when it attracts ambitious and hardworking people, but it takes truly incompetent leadership to turn what should be a gift into a political crisis.

Sam Peak is a senior policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity.

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