Today, the House Committee on Appropriations is considering the FY19 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) authored, and the committee approved, an amendment to permanently fix the H-2B visa program. The seafood processing industry and other employers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore depend on this program to hire temporary workers when they cannot find Americans interested in their job openings. Congressman Harris made the following statement after the amendment was passed:
“Unfortunately, the current structure of the H-2B visa program cannot accommodate the recent and substantial increase in demand for temporary guest workers. My amendment will ease the current strain on the H-2B program by exempting returning workers from the annual 66,000 visa limit, and by fixing the current problem of the “all or nothing” allocation system. In the event that even the higher limits authorized by my amendment are not enough to satisfy all the needs in a given year, the Department of Homeland Security will be able to distribute visas through a proportional allocation system, so all businesses in the application pool will receive at least a portion of the visas they requested.
The hardships created by this year’s shortage of visas should never be allowed to happen again. Small businesses on the Eastern Shore and across the United States depend on these temporary guest workers when they cannot find Americans to fill their job openings. I commend my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for supporting this important reform, and I hope Maryland’s Senators will support this reform as well.”