Yesterday, in front of the U.S. Capitol, eight Members of Congress, flanked by hundreds of seasonal employers, thanked the Trump Administration for their recent release of 30,000 H-2B visas and called on Congress to permanently increase the H-2B visa cap and reform the program.
Due to the cap of 66,000 visas, thousands of seasonal employers with a spring and summer date of need have been denied access to the H-2B program. The inability to bring in H-2B workers to supplement their U.S. workforces has led to small, seasonal businesses canceling contracts, laying off their full-time, year-round U.S. workers and forgoing equipment purchases.
Judy Ogden, owner of Ogden’s Design & Plantings of St. James, NY spoke of the effect of the cap on her business this year when she introduced Congressman Zeldin (NY-1). “I have placed help wanted signs in every conceivable place I can think of but I receive few applicants. This is with a starting wage of over $16 an hour. H-2B workers do not take American jobs. They support American jobs. I have yet to open my business for 2019 because I do not have a workforce. Without H-2B reform, I will have to close a business I have worked so hard to build.”
Ogden was followed by her Congressman, Representative Lee Zeldin (NY-1). “But unless the H2B process is reworked… unless it is reformed and improved, the Long Island economy will seriously suffer. These are workers coming to our country legally. While we are happy with the temporary fix, we are seriously and completely unsatisfied with a lack of a permanent solution. It is time to put aside partisan politics and get this done.”
We could not agree more Congressman Zeldin. It is time for Congress to provide permanent cap relief to the thousands of seasonal businesses who are committed to obeying the law and hiring Americans first. Seasonal businesses who refuse to hire undocumented workers cannot continue to face the uncertainty each spring of not knowing if they will have a workforce to operate their businesses. The time is now to fix the program once and for all!