WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) hand-delivered a letter to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release additional visas under the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker Program.
Congressman Higgins will meet with Secretary Nielsen next week to discuss the importance of H-2B visas to the seafood and ag processing industries in South Louisiana.
The full text of the letter is below:
March 6, 2019
The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Nielsen,
I write today regarding the critical need to release additional visas under the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker Program.
As you know, the statutory allocation of H-2B visas for the current fiscal year was reached on February 19, 2019. With today’s strong national economy, many more employers are struggling to find U.S. workers for seasonal positions that last no longer than 6-9 months. Small and seasonal businesses are the lifeblood of Southwest Louisiana’s heritage and economy and many of our industries, such as crawfish and shrimp processing, are forced to cease operations without temporary seasonal workers. Due to the time-sensitive nature of seasonal businesses, it is critical that temporary seasonal visas be made available immediately.
Under Division H, Title, 1, Section 105 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 (P.L. 116-6), the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of Labor, is authorized to approve petitions for admission under the H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker program up to the new statutory level set in the bill for the current fiscal year
In accordance with this legislation, I respectfully request your immediate attention to this matter and advise that the cap on H-2B visas for the current fiscal year be raised without delay. Additionally, I encourage you to take immediate steps to re-open the petition process and adjudicate any pending labor certifications that demonstrate the requirements set forth in this legislation. As in years past, I believe that your Department can take these actions, using the authority provided under this law, without the need for additional rulemaking.
Furthermore, I encourage the Department to provide information regarding the increased cap, processing of additional applications, and approval of additional visas to Congress and employers as soon as possible to alleviate concerns and stabilize struggling businesses.
I greatly appreciate your past efforts to increase the annual cap on H-2B visas, and I look forward to seeing a significant increase this fiscal year to fill these desperately needed jobs in Louisiana. Thank you for your attention to this important issue. I appreciate your consideration and encourage swift action.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS