Huge H-2B coalition asks Trump administration to expedite visas |

Huge H-2B coalition asks Trump administration to expedite visas

-The Hagstrom Report

A huge coalition of employers of H-2B temporary immigrant workers in landscaping, forestry, conservation, seafood processing and other essential non-agricultural services asked the Trump administration late Monday to allow H-2B workers already in the country to change employers and to make it easier for others to enter the country.

“At a time when many American businesses are shuttered and millions of people are confined to their homes in an effort to fight the pandemic, we ask for your assistance in helping to ensure those businesses that are able to continue to operate have the necessary labor to do so,” the coalition asked, noting that many full time year round American workers depend on H-2B workers fill the support jobs that make the higher paying jobs possible.

The coalition’s members include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Hort, the American Seafood Jobs Alliance, the American Sugar Cane League and various forestry groups, as well as hotel, restaurant and other hospitality industry groups.

In a letter to Homeland Security Department Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, the coalition noted that the administration had eased the circumstances for H-2A temporary agricultural workers and said that H-2B workers “should receive similar treatment.”

“As many coalition members also employ H-2A workers, we very much appreciate the efforts by the State Department and DHS to prioritize H-2A petitions and workers,” the letter said.

“We believe DHS and USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) should take similar actions to also ensure prompt processing of H-2B petitions. USCIS should also ensure prompt access to unused visas by capped out employers who have a continued need and should allow prompt transfer of H-2 workers already in the country to both approved and capped out H-2 employers.”

The letter also said, “In the event economic activity rebounds swiftly, as the president has assured, and the certified need for H-2B workers is realized, (the Trump administration should) quickly allocate supplemental visas to those employers with previously approved petitions that voluntarily transferred their workers to a fellow employer in need or underutilized the visa positions approved.

“If USCIS does not resume prompt adjudication of H-2B petitions and reallocate unused visas, many businesses that need seasonal H-2B workers to supplement their U.S. workforce will be dramatically understaffed and would suffer irreparable economic harm.”

Earlier this year the Trump administration signaled it was going to increase the number of H-2B visas this year, but pulled back on that plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump said late Monday he would sign an executive order to ban all immigration due to the coronavirus pandemic and to protect American jobs, but it was unclear how broad that would be.

As The Washington Post said, “It was not immediately clear what Trump was referring to or whether such an order would be possible.”

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice as a vice presidential candidate, has said she is not a protectionist and believes in trade.But she has also said she would not have voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, voted against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement due to environmental concerns, and opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations from which President Donald Trump withdrew, according to media reports.At a primary debate in September 2019 when she was campaigning for president, Harris said, “I am not a protectionist Democrat. Look, we need to sell our stuff. And that means we need to sell it to people overseas. That means we need trade policies that allow that to happen.”Harris has also been critical of Trump’s trade policies, calling increased tariffs a tax on the American people.Responding to a Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, Harris said,Trump’s “trade war is crushing American farmers, killing American jobs, and punishing American consumers.”“I would work with our allies in Europe and Asia to confront China on its troubling trade practices, not perpetuate Trump’s failing tariff war that is being paid for by hard‐working Americans,” she said.Harris’s rural platform also said that she would take executive action to re-establish the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration as an independent office at the Agriculture Department and “appoint an Agriculture secretary who will prioritize enforcement of the Packers & Stockyards Act.”Re-establishing GIPSA has been a goal of groups that are critical of U.S. beef imports.Note: Links to Harris’s presidential campaign website have been redirected to the Biden campaign site, but the text of her “Partnership With Rural America” policy page may still be read through a web cache, at an analysis of Harris’s trade statements, Simon Lester of the Cato Institute wrote this week, “Where does all of that leave us? She does not seem to be an economic nationalist or isolationist, and she makes clear that she believes the United States should engage with the world economically.”“At the same time, though, the terms of that engagement are a bit uncertain. What exactly would she want to see in a trade agreement before she would sign on to it? She clearly wants more labor and environment provisions in trade agreements, although USMCA had quite a lot and she still voted against it, arguing that climate change should be covered as well.“Maybe the answer is simply that she wants to change the scope of trade agreements, so that they still promote trade liberalization, but at the same time continue their expansion towards general global governance of non‐trade issues. Vice presidents sometimes take on specific issue areas in which to play an active role. If Biden wins and Harris as VP has trade in her portfolio, we will find out more.”


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