H-2B Gets Airtime
The American Nursery & Landscape Association's (ANLA) senior director of government relations, Craig Regelbrugge, was a featured guest on a Colorado Public Radio program exploring immigration and the H-2B guest worker program.
In the 20-minute interview, Regelbrugge mentioned why employers often turn to H-2B to supplement their workforce. "There simply are not enough domestic workers in this country available to take all of the job opportunities that our economy is capable of creating," said Regelbrugge. "Independent sources, such as Federal Reserve Chairman Allan Greenspan, have underscored that if we are to sustain a vibrant economy, we're going to need to look at multiple approaches, including a reasonable immigration policy," he continued.
Regelbrugge emphasized that access to seasonal H-2B workers and other temporary workers in sectors like agriculture, creates year-round jobs for Americans in such companies as landscape contracting and maintenance firms that are able to expand their workforce for peak seasons. Finally, he asserted that legal channels for foreign workers to enter and depart the United States in a safe and regulated way are part of the answer to the illegal immigration crisis dominating the daily news.
The H-2B program has been constrained by a cap, currently set at 66,000, on the number of visas issued annually. This number represents a tiny fraction of the seasonal job opportunities created by user industries such as landscape contracting and maintenance, agriculture, restaurants and resorts. Legislation passed by Congress last May, with the active leadership and lobbying support of ANLA, temporarily relaxed the cap, but the fix expires at the end of September 2006. ANLA and other affected industries are working together to achieve a more permanent resolution.
You can view Regelbrugge's full interview at http://cpr.org/co_matters .(Search under Regelbrugge.)