H-2B Limits Hurting Maryland Crab Industry
Many crab processing plants in Dorchester County, Maryland, may stay closed when the crabbing season opens on April 1, 2009, because crab-pickers from Mexico and Central America have been unable to get H-2B visas, according to reports. Approximately 150 Chesapeake Bay-area watermen and representatives of related industries recently met with Maryland’s First District Congressman Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) to discuss the problem.
Congressman Kratovil recently sent a letter, along with Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), to the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security, that discussed the H-2B visa shortage’s effects on Maryland’s crab industry. Congressman Kratovil noted that “[a]llowing bureaucratic delays to [a]ffect an economy that is already hurting would do my constituents and their families an injustice and lead to further American job loss. Through no fault of their own, small businesses will not be able to employ the seasonal employees that they need to survive and prosper. Everything possible must be done to ensure local business have the workers they need to succeed, especially in the current environment.” Congressman Kratovil is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1136, “Save Our Small Seasonal Businesses Act of 2009,” which would allow any H-2B temporary worker who came to the U.S. during at least one of the past three years to continue to qualify for temporary admission. The law also proposes a permanent extension of the H-2B program.
Jack Brooks, president of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association, cited University of Maryland research that found that every H-2B temporary worker creates two-and-a-half jobs for shore residents.