Home Warner, Kaine fight for Virginia seafood industry

Warner, Kaine fight for Virginia seafood industry


congressU.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and 11 bipartisan Senators in calling on Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to coordinate and immediately resume accepting and processing H-2B visa applications. Seasonal workers returning to the United States under H-2B visas are critical to ensuring Virginia’s seafood businesses have the labor force they need during peak harvest season.

The departments immediately stopped processing applications just one day after a ruling from a U.S. District Court in Florida in Perez v. Perez found that the Labor Department lacks the sole authority to administer the H-2B visa program.

In letters to both Secretaries, the Senators wrote, “It [the Perez decision] did not require that DOL shut the H-2B program down. This decision along with DHS’ decision to stop the processing of its petitions has already caused economic damage and panic among businesses that depend on the H-2B program.”

In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine and Mikulski, the bipartisan letters are signed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), David Vitter (R-LA) and Roger Wicker (R-MI).

“As you know, the H-2B program is a necessity for businesses across the country, such as seafood, hospitality, tourism, forestry and other seasonal industries.  These businesses are on the ropes and are fighting every day to survive. In just this year alone, they are facing higher wages because of the prohibition on the use of prevailing wage surveys and many of them won’t be able to secure workers because the cap for the 1st half of the year was reached in January… We urge DHS, in collaboration with DOL, to immediately issue an emergency rule that will result in the resumption of H-2B processing,” wrote the Senators.



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