DHS allows 15000 more seasonal foreign workers this year

Department of Homeland Security office

The H-2B Workforce Coalition gave voice to the sector, welcoming the "minimal relief" granted them by the Federal government.

The Trump administration on Monday kicked off a three-week Made in America campaign to promote US-made products and encourage U.S. businesses to hire more Americans.

Congress originally set the cap at 66,000 workers for the fiscal year ending September 30. While trainers have complained about the availability of backstretch workers for years, concern has mounted over the past 12 months due to anti-immigrant rhetoric from the presidential administration and its base.

Under authority from Congress, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly extended the cap on H2B visas, which cover non-agricultural guest workers in seasonal industries like landscaping, fishing and resorts.

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Businesses must first attest that their firms would suffer permanent "irreparable harm" without importing foreign workers and will be required to retain documents proving that they would not otherwise be able to meet their contractual obligations, the officials said. "We are going to continue to hit up Congress for more access to foreign workers because Americans want year-round jobs that come with benefits and we have a lot of seasonal business and need more access to labor".

"As a demonstration of the Administration's commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap", Kelly said.

President Donald Trump uses the H-2B visa program to staff his Florida private club, where he has hosted visiting heads of state since his inauguration in January.

Kelly said there are not enough qualified workers available to American businesses for fiscal year 2017. These issues generally go unreported for fear that their visas will be revoked.

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H-2B visas allow non-agricultural workers to gain temporary employment in the United States if businesses are unable to find qualified US workers.

Still, senior DHS officials insisted the policy fits Trumps self-styled "America First" agenda because it will help American businesses.

In late June 2016, some local shrimpers said that they won't be able to fish this season because of the lack of H2B visa workers.

Criticism from Congress was bipartisan in nature, exemplified by a joint reproach from Iowa's Senator Chuck Grassley (R) and Senator Dick Durbin (D) of IL. Between 2013 and 2015, his Mar-a-Lago property - also known as the "Winter White House" - employed 246 workers on the H-2B visa.

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Trump campaigned on an "America First" platform of favoring Americans for hiring. During the presidential campaign, Trump explained his use of H-2B visas by saying that "getting help in Palm Beach during the season is nearly impossible".

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