H-2B update 5-2-17 Email
Tuesday, May 02, 2017 05:00 PM

Late yesterday, Congress reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. Thanks to a massive effort from everyone in the H-2B community, the bill contains limited H-2B cap relief. As you recall, ALCC participated in last week's H-2B Advocacy Day in DC-earning a 
mention from National Association of Landscape Professionals for our efforts. We are proud of the work we've done but recognize that there is still more work to do to create meaningful H-2B reform.

The bill provides the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the authority to raise the H-2B cap when he determines that there is an economic need. It limits the total number of H-2B workers to that may enter the U.S. during fiscal 2017 to 129,547, the number of new and returning H-2B workers admitted to the U.S. in fiscal 2007. After the bill becomes law, we must work with the Administration to encourage the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement this provision.

The bill contains the following language:

SEC. 543. Notwithstanding the numerical limitation set forth in section 214(g)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(g)(1)(B)), the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of Labor, and upon the determination that the needs of American businesses cannot be satisfied in fiscal year 2017 with United States workers who are willing, qualified, and able to perform temporary nonagricultural labor, may increase the total number of aliens who may receive a visa under section 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b)) in such fiscal year above such limitation by not more than the highest number of H-2B nonimmigrants who participated in the H-2B returning worker program in any fiscal year in which returning workers were exempt from such numerical limitation.

The bill also contains the language from last year limiting the Administration's ability to enforce the corresponding employment and 3/4 guarantee language of the 2015 regulations, allowing for the use of private wage surveys, a 10-month season and staggered crossing for seafood workers. See all the text related to H-2B in this document.

We will provide additional updates as the bill moves through the legislative process of the House, Senate, and ultimately the President's desk.  Thanks again to everyone for the tremendous outreach to lawmakers. Your voices were heard on Capitol Hill.

Be sure to thank your lawmakers for their support on this-especially Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Rep. Jared Polis, Rep. Ken Buck, and Sen. Cory Gardner, all of whom signed a letter on behalf of Colorado to the House Committee on Appropriations, urging them to include the returning worker exemption.

But these provisions are only a short-term fix. ALCC will continue to look for a fresh approach to advocacy and will work to find a long-term solution to issues surrounding the H-2B visa program. I invite you to join your colleagues in these efforts. One upcoming opportunity is NALP's Legislative Days on the Hill. If you plan to attend on behalf of Colorado's landscape industry, please ALCC at [email protected] or 303 757-5611.

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