H-2B relief may come this year with the passage of a bipartisan deal to fund the federal government through the end of September.
Included in the legislation is language that would allow the administration to nearly double the cap on H-2B workers if an economic need is determined. The need will be decided on by the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, who could raise the cap from 66,000 up to 129,547.
Paul Mendelsohn, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, says the organization wants to have meetings with the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security about how to roll out the program effectively if relief is granted.
“We are going to reach out the administration very quickly and offer our assistance to help them out,” he said.
The criteria for the determination is unknown as of yet, but Mendelsohn guesses that economic indicators such as the unemployment rate and the prevailing wage will come into play.
“Obviously, we think it should be a fairly cut and dried situation,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a need. There is a dearth of American workers that want these positions and we’re hoping that it is a very quick decision by the administration.”
The NALP is not taking any chances, and will maintain a dialogue with Congress and members of the administration, he added.
Since the legislation will only last through Sept. 30, NALP will continue to focus on fiscal year 2018 relief, as well as a permanent fix on the issue. Mendelsohn urges NALP members to remain active in the fight.
“We need to continue to not let up because we know that the people on the other side are not going to let up,” he said. “Organizations who have a very strong anti-immigration message are rather upset that this has happened and they’re going to be very aggressive in my estimation of trying to do something to ensure that we don’t have returning worker exemption in 2018 so we need to be vigilant and aggressive and active.”
The NALP will also continue to encourage congress to provide relief for fiscal year 2018 and to pass permanent H-2B cap relief. For more information, click here.
The bill also continues provisions from fiscal 2016 that limit the ability of the administration to enforce the corresponding employment and 3/4 guarantee provisions of the 2015 regulations and keep the season at 10-month limit.