The H-2B Visa program is not a Band-Aid that covers up a systemic problem that keeps America from being self-supportive, as Roy Beck claimed in The Hill yesterday.

The H-2B visa program is a lifeline to many small and seasonal businesses that need temporary workers to keep their doors open and keep American workers employed. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Contrary to Beck’s assertions, the H-2B visa program is not a mass immigration and worker visa program.  Indeed, the whole program represents far less than 1/10 of 1 percent of all U.S. workers.  But for those industries that rely on these temporary, seasonal workers with jobs in the seafood industry; the landscape industry; the motel and hotel industry; at golf courses; and at carnivals across the country, these workers do the jobs that many Americans simply won’t do.

It would be far easier and far cheaper for these industries to hire American citizens, but the simple fact is, in these niche industries, it’s really hard to find qualified and dependable seasonal employees.  Believe us, we have tried. 

The reasons are many: the work is often itinerant in nature.  It is, by definition, temporary.  And the work can be backbreaking.

Roy Beck claims that we should hire people from Ferguson, Mo. or Baltimore to fill these jobs, but that’s not where the jobs are.  And, the folks who live in those big cities simply don’t want to leave their homes and go on the road to work these tough jobs. 

Mr. Beck has long advocated for population control.  His organization, NumbersUSA, advocates for strict immigration policies.  He believes, in his heart of hearts, that there are too many people living in America, and that this country can’t sustain any more. 

What Mr. Beck fails to realize is that these H-2B workers actually create and sustain American jobs.

H-2B visa holders go back to their home country after their temporary assignment is done.  They don’tstay in America.  They don’t bring their families to America.  And, they contribute to Social Security, even though they will never be able to collect it. This is not an immigration program.

In fact, the H-2B program helps to reduce illegal immigration by giving employers an alternative to hiring undocumented workers when Americans are not willing to take these temporary jobs.  Employers who use the H-2B program are committed to hiring a legal work force.

The H-2B visa program is not a sign of the decline and fall of American civilization.  It is a program that keeps American small businesses in business and that sustains American jobs.  In fact, most studies show that for every H-2B visa granted, 4.6 domestic jobs are sustained. 

We salute those Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who have stood up to the outlandish rhetoric and done the right thing for their constituents to keep America working.   

The H-2B visa program is small, but for the hundreds of employers who count on these hard-working employees to stay in business, it’s tremendously important. 


Brian Crawford, Laurie Flanagan and Gregg Hartley are Co-Chairs, H2B Workforce Coalition.