Flawed temporary non-ag work visa hurts immigrants and American workers

WASHINGTON DC (January 15, 2020) — A bipartisan group of Senators today renewed calls for significant regulatory or legislative reforms to the H-2B visa program before increasing the annual visa cap. In a letter today to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor, Senators Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) raised concerns that the flawed non-agriculture guest worker visa program displaces American workers and can incentivize the exploitation of both foreign and American workers.

“These realities of the H-2B program, as it operates today, incentivize unscrupulous employers to hire H-2B workers instead of American workers and create poor working conditions for immigrant workers and American workers alike.

“Therefore, absent significant regulatory and legislative reforms to the program, we do not believe that an increase in the number of H-2B visas is in the interests of either American workers or H-2B visa holders,” the senators wrote.

The senators called on the agencies to maintain careful records justifying the need to increase the number of H-2B visas beyond the 66,000 annual cap, and to be prepared to provide Congress with a written report and staff briefing to explain any decision to increase the number of H-2B visas issued in FY2020.

The Senators raised similar concerns last year, stating that it would be a mistake to increase the visa cap “without first taking the necessary steps to strengthen the program’s labor, employment, and trafficking protections for workers.”

Full text of today’s letter enclosed at the link.

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