H-2B Emergency Fix Legislation Introduced in Both Chambers
Last months announcement by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that it had
received enough H-2B petitions to reach the cap for this fiscal year was followed by intense
lobbying on Capitol Hill, primarily by employers who rely on H-2B employees during the fast
approaching summer employment season. Lawmakers responded last week by introducing four
H-2B fix bills. The speed with which these bills were introduced is a tribute to the energized
grassroots efforts undertaken by H-2B employers and national advocacy groups and should serve
as a model for future immigration campaigns. The following is a brief description of the four
The Save Summer Act of 2004 (S. 2252/ H.R. 4052), introduced on March 22 in the Senate
by Senators Kennedy (D-MA), Snowe (R-ME), Leahy (D-VT), Gregg (R-NH), Jeffords (IVT),
Murkowski (R-AK), Sarbanes (D-MD), Collins (R-ME), Murray (D-WA), Stevens (RAK),
Edwards (D-NC), McCain (R-AZ), Daschle (D-SD) and Sununu (R-NH), and in the
House by Representatives Delahunt (D-MA), Young (R-AK), Gilchrest (R-MD), Simmons
(R-CT), Allen (D-ME), Van Hollen (D-MD), Serrano (D-NY), Bordallo (D-GU), Jones (R-
NC), Ortiz (D-TX), and Cannon (R-UT), would increase the H-2B cap for fiscal year (FY)
2004 by 40,000 visas and would implement reporting requirements similar to those mandated
for the H-1B program.
The Summer Operations and Services (SOS) Relief and Reform Act (S. 2258), introduced
on March 30 by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Chambliss (R-GA), Allen (R-VA), Gregg (R-NH),
Warner (R-VA), Murkowski (R-AK), Collins (R-ME), and Thomas (R-WY), would require
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to carve-out from the cap any H-2B visa
holders and applicants for this fiscal year who had obtained an H-2B visa in the previous two
fiscal years. Although a speedy solution is imperative, how DHS would implement this fix is
unclear.
H.R. 4041, introduced on March 25 by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), would provide
that H-2B employers who employed H-2B workers last year be granted access to the same
number of H-2B workers for this fiscal year. Employers concerned with this legislation cite
the fact that this proposal would favor established employers who had previously relied on H-
2B workers and would fail to recognize the growth of businesses or the establishment of new
businesses.
Without an immediate increase in the H-2B cap for the current fiscal year, the shortage of
seasonal employees that American employers are facing will leave many with no option other
than to shut their doors. In turn, this lack of access to H-2B workers could be devastating to
certain industries and communities nationwide. Such a temporary fix, however, must be
followed in the next fiscal year by a more lasting solution that can be achieved only through
comprehensive immigration reform. To view AILAs press release in support of S. 2252/H.R.
4052, please go to: http://www.aila.org/newsViewer.aspx?...mp;docID=12650