Seasonal workers and the ever-sensitive immigration debate

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the recently released seasonal worker visa program, or the H-2B.  While the purpose of the program is to enable seasonal staff to do jobs that American citizens typically don’t want, there has been significant backlash.

Immigration is an extremely sensitive and controversial issue across the nation.  So really any program dealing with migrant workers, even if their visas are temporary, is bound to get attention (and some backlash).

The WSJ article points out that new H-2B applies primarily to certain industries (landscaping, forestry, amusement, tourism and construction), and clarifies that many of the jobs being filled by seasonal workers are jobs that Americans do not express sufficient interest in.

Certain businesses, such as Kissel Entertainment (mentioned in the WSJ article), are impacted significantly by these programs due to their dependence on seasonal workers.  Problems like slowdowns can cost up to $50,000 in lost revenue.

Although many employers seem to speak well of the new H-2B, it has seen a lot of criticism from people like Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Yet another way to rehash the debate surrounding immigration and migrant workers “taking” jobs from Americans.  But if the program is a way of filling jobs that Americans otherwise aren’t taking, are those jobs really being taken?

2 Replies to “Seasonal workers and the ever-sensitive immigration debate”

  1. I don’t see why this is such a big deal. The H-2B even has a cap at 66,000 people per year, so even if companies somehow “exploit” the form, they cannot take a significant number of jobs away from U.S. citizens. But I don’t know what exploiting would even entail, because it looks like employers aren’t allowed to let hiring foreigners effect jobs or wages or hours or anything for U.S. citizen workers. Totally just politics being politics

    • The House omnibus bill, released Thursday, 2/18 includes a provision that would quadruple the number of H-2B visas for “low-skilled” guest workers. The number of H-2B visa workers allowed in the U.S. would increase from 66,000 to around 264,000 in 2016. This new provision would also exclude any worker who has already received an H-2B visa in the last three years.

      This information was pulled from a website in favor of lower immigration levels. The article plays to the risk adverse decision making intuitions that many american citizens use when regarding immigration policies:

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