Connect with us

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Dartunorro Clark

Aubrey Vincent is bracing for the unthinkable.

She first started working for her family’s small business, Lindy’s Seafood, at age 12. She watched it blossom into a regional staple in the crab town of Fishing Creek, Maryland, before taking it over. But for the second year in a row, companies like hers that rely on temporary foreign labor are poised to take a hard hit, or possibly close altogether.

“I’m second-generation and, at this point, it’s hard to think that maybe I can’t do this anymore, but that’s essentially where we are,” Vincent, 31, told NBC News. “We’re in a worse position than we were last year.”

Waterman Monroe Dorsey releases undersized blue crabs from their commercial boat near Hooper Island, Maryland, on June 8, 2016.Linda Davidson / The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Trump administration is once again planning to use a lottery system to dole out 33,000 H-2B visas — the government program that allows businesses like Lindy’s Seafood to hire those temporary foreign workers — this spring, rather than the first-come, first-serve model used under previous administrations. Businesses strained by the change last year will find themselves competing against record demand this year, according to the Department of Labor statistics. Compounding the problem, experts said, is that Congress is no closer to reforming the program than it has been since it was enacted it in 1990, despite pleas from seasonal businesses and their associations to act.

“Last year, we lost six months of sales, business and income,” Vincent said. “To have to go through that again this year, it’s just a matter of how long can you work two months a year before you fold?”

President Donald Trump has long complained about the loss of American jobs to immigrants and overseas workers, despite documented evidence of his businesses relying on foreign labor and also using the H-2B program.

But Vincent said the visas help American businesses like hers stay afloat, which in turn also supports American jobs. She said she has exhausted efforts to recruit American workers because most are not interested in the laborious task of processing hundreds of barrels of fresh crab.

Due to the revenue hit in 2018, for instance, many of her full-time American workers had to leave last year to find different work.

“It was awful and I’m worried I can’t ask them to come back this year,” she said about her full-time workers. “If it’s going to be more of the same I don’t want to see their families have to struggle.”

This year, the H-2B program received requests for nearly 100,000 foreign workers, roughly three times the number of visas available. Congress sets the limit at 66,000 and it’s divided between the spring and fall. The demand this year, which briefly crashed the online Department of Labor application system, has put some businesses that rely heavily on them, such as landscaping and carnivals, in survival mode.

Vincent requested 105 foreign workers — a typical number for her — and will have to wait until April to find out if she will get them before her season kicks into high gear.

“I’m hoping people realize that these programs have the ability to benefit everyone if they’re well-run and done efficiently,” she said. “They create American jobs and create a lot of opportunity in our community.”

Bill Sieling, the executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association in Maryland, implored Congress to fix the program or it could spell the end of some local industries that need the program to survive.

“It’s just a broken system,” he said. “And it’s extremely unfair to the businesses.”

He added, “If you get below a certain threshold you’re no longer an industry, you’re a cottage; you’re no longer a viable player in the industry and lose whatever marketing advantage you have. And that’s probably what would happen if we don’t come up with a solution for this.”

The Department of Homeland Security, through Congress, has the authority to issue the visas. Last year, they issued an additional 15,000 visas to offer relief to businesses due to demand. In a statement to NBC News on Friday, the agency said it’s committed to “upholding our nation’s immigration laws” while also thoroughly reviewing “employment-based visa programs” to make sure they align with Trump’s pledge to put American workers first.

“USCIS will continue adjudicating all applications fairly, efficiently, and effectively on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under applicable law, policies, and regulations,” said Michael Bars, a spokesperson for DHS’ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“USCIS continues to grant the statutory level of H-2B visas set by Congress.”

Last year, landscaping was the top industry requesting workers, according to Department of Labor data. However, the industry has felt a real crunch over the past two years, Andrew Bray, a vice president at the National Association of Landscape Professionals, said.

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Politics

Brexit news: Will Queen be forced to SUSPEND Parliament?

Published

on

HARD Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Theresa May could prevent an extension to Article 50 and a delay to Brexit by shutting down Parliament early.

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Hakeem Jeffries defends calling Trump ‘Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’

Published

on

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Allan Smith

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is standing by remarks he made Monday in which he called President Donald Trump “the Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

In an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” the House Democratic Caucus chairman said he had no regrets about the comment, which he made at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York City.

“We’ve got to have an opportunity for at least one day a year to have a candid if sometimes uncomfortable conversation about race,” Jeffries told CNN. “It seems to me that we can’t have that conversation on Valentine’s Day, we can’t have that conversation on Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s perhaps appropriate for us to be able to have that difficult discussion on MLK Day, when we’re celebrating the life and legacy of a champion for racial and social justice.”

Monday was not the first time Jeffries labeled Trump as such. But he told CNN that he “absolutely” does not think Trump is a Ku Klux Klan member. “Grand Wizard” is the title that was given to leaders of the white supremacist group.

“I did not use the words racist in any of my comments,” Jeffries said. “In fact, Wolf Blitzer in the past has asked me whether I believe the president is a racist, and I’ve consistently said no. I did use a colorful phrase, but of course I don’t believe that the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK. But it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous, at times, behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades.”

As examples, Jeffries cited a Justice Department lawsuit against the Trumps in the 1970s for alleged housing discrimination, the president’s remarks about the so-called Central Park Five, Trump’s promotion of the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and the president’s handling of the fatal violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Jeffries wasn’t the only Democratic leader to attack Trump’s racial record over the Monday holiday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in South Carolina: “It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist.”

In response, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted that Sanders’ remark was “disgusting and wrong.”

@realDonaldTrump has brought African American and Hispanic unemployment to record lows, passed historic criminal justice reform. Even worse that Bernie is using MLK Day to make an incendiary comment like that,” McDaniel wrote.



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Brexit latest: 'Mayhem' as Remainer MPs plot to halt UK leaving the EU

Published

on

BREXITEERS warned of “mayhem” yesterday as plotting Remainers unleashed plans to sabotage Brexit by seizing power from the Government.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending