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Congressman Andy Harris

Representing the First District of Maryland

Harris, Rounds, Tillis, Pingree Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging Administration To Increase the Number of Temporary, Non-Immigrant H-2B Workers for 2019

March 6, 2019
Press Release

Current number of H-2B visas fails to adequately meet our nation’s temporary workforce needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Reps. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-M.D.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) today led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen urging the administration to immediately release additional H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2019 as authorized by the recent appropriations package (Pub. L. 116-6). The appropriations package signed into law last month authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, to release up to approximately 69,320 additional H-2B visas for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019.

Congressman Harris made the following statement about the letter:

“It’s essential that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) release additional H-2B visas sufficient to meet the demand of seasonal employers, particularly in Maryland’s First District. The effects of a continually oversubscribed H-2B visa system have been, and will continue to be, serious, and will negatively affect seasonal business, economic growth, and general business operations -- not just in Maryland’s First District, but nation-wide. Given the booming economy, record low unemployment rate, and soaring demand for labor, it is crucial that our seasonal employers are afforded access to temporary guest workers. As such, I strongly urge Secretary Nielsen to exercise her discretion and release enough H-2B visas to meet the needs of our American employers.”

The Bicameral group of legislators wrote: “Given the near historic low unemployment rate, the constant oversubscription to the program and its importance to our local economies, we strongly urge you to use the discretion afforded your office in the most recent appropriations bill to release, without delay and to the greatest extent allowed by law, additional H-2B visas sufficient to meet the certified demand of our seasonal employers… If significant H-2B cap relief is not provided, there will be severe consequences for seasonal businesses and our economy generally.”

The letter was signed by 138 Members of Congress, including: U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and U.S. Reps. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Andy Barr (R-Ky.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), John Carter (R-TX), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Kan.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Henry Cuellar (R-TX), Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Ron Estes (R-Kan.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Garret Graves (R-La.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Michael Guest (R-Miss.), Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), French Hill (R-Ark.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), David Joyce (R-Ohio), David William Keating (D-Mass.), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio),  Billy Long (R-Mo.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.),Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Steve Watkins (R-Kan.), Randy Weber (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), Roger Williams (R-Texas), Robert Wittman (R-Va.), Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Don Young (R-Alaska), and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)

Important Facts About The H-2B Visa Program

·        H-2B workers support American jobs and small businesses. Every H-2B worker creates or sustains 4.64 American jobs on average according to a study conducted by the American Enterprise Institute.

·         As required by law, employers must first make a concerted effort to hire American workers to fill open positions. H-2B visas fill needs for American small businesses when there are not enough able and willing American workers to fill the temporary, seasonal positions.

·         Employers often have to spend more money to hire temporary H-2B workers, who are paid a prevailing wage that is set by the U.S. Department of Labor.
 

For media inquiries, please contact Congressman Harris’ Washington, DC office at 202-225-5311, or contact Julia Nista at Julia.Nista@mail.house.gov.

 

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