Washington, D.C. – The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA) partnered with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) to encourage Congress to grant additional visas for seasonal workers entering the U.S.
Both organizations express concerns for issues surrounding the H-2B visa program and its impact on companies that are not able to fill temporary labor positions.
“This year the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) has certified that there exists a bona fide shortage for more than 142,000 workers to fill seasonal jobs,” said NHLA Executive Director Ralph Egües. “Without access to seasonal workers, thousands of the nation’s leading landscape companies and other employers needing seasonal workers are forced to shrink operations and lay off American workers.”
The H-2B program brings foreign workers to the United States temporarily. After the program ends, these workers return to their home countries. Currently, the program is capped at 66,000 workers per year.
Interim President and CEO of USHCC Fernand Fernandez said the cap on H-2B visas can be directly connected to the labor shortages in the landscaping industry and otherwise.
“With an unemployment rate of 4 percent, our economy is facing labor shortages that are preventing American businesses from scaling,” Fernandez said.
The USDOL received 81,600 applications this year, almost two and a half times the slots available for the second half of the year. There were 15,000 visas added to the program in May, but Fernandez said that this isn’t enough.
“There are more than twice as many H-2B visa requests as there are visas,” he said. “We ask that our leaders in Congress respond to the needs of American employers and pass adequate H-2B visa cap relief.”