ANLA has been working hard recently on a number of immigration issues. See what the association has been up to and what you can do to help.
H-2B Cap Reached For First Half Of Fiscal Year
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced recently that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated 33,000 H-2B visa cap for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2007. According to the USCIS, petitions for H-2B workers who enter the U.S. after April 1, 2007, will continue to be processed, until a “final receipt date” is announced.
“Reaching the semi-annual cap of 33,000 in November underscores the need for a permanent solution to the H-2B cap,” said John Farner, the American Nursery and Landscape Association’s (ANLA) director of legislative relations. “With the cap being reached earlier and earlier each year, it is evident that employers, who may not have used the H-2B program in the past, are in need of seasonal temporary employees; these are jobs that Americans simply won’t do.”
Earlier this year, Congress enacted legislation allowing “returning workers” to be exempt from H-2B cap limitations. To qualify as a “return worker,” the worker must have counted against the H-2B numerical cap between Oct. 1, 2003 and Sept. 30, 2006. The USCIS has stated that the “return worker” petitions will continue to be reviewed, as these visas do not count against the cap.
ANLA Joins Immigration Forum Board of Directors
ANLA’s senior director of government relations, Craig Regelbrugge, has been elected to the board of directors of the National Immigration Forum. The Forum’s mission is to embrace and uphold America’s tradition as a nation of immigrants. The Forum advocates and builds support for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees and are fair and supportive to newcomers in the United States.
The National Immigration Forum is actively involved in the legislative debate on immigration reform now underway in Congress. The Forum advocates for fair and enlightened immigration policies that strengthen the U.S. economy and policies that help new immigrants integrate into the fabric of American society.
ANLA Lobbies Agricultural and Immigration Reform
ANLA was among a group of nearly 400 agricultural and green industry associations and leaders who sent a letter to Congress urging legislative action on agricultural immigration reform during Congress’ post-election “lame duck” session. The sheer number, geographic, and industry diversity of groups and leaders signing the letter reflect the tremendous sense of urgency in all sectors of agriculture that are labor-intensive, including nursery, greenhouse and Christmas tree production.
Over the past year, worsening agricultural labor shortages and production losses have been reported across America, according to ANLA. The letter to Congress emphasized that the Senate included comprehensive agricultural reforms in S.2611, the immigration bill that passed the Senate in May. Furthermore, while agricultural issues often take on strong regional differences, support for common-sense reforms comes from every corner of America, according to ANLA.
“Reforms sought by the agricultural groups and leaders include an overhaul of the 50-year-old dysfunctional and litigious H-2A temporary worker program. Needed reforms would streamline H-2A to make it more responsive, and affordable for producers nationwide. Agricultural employers also seek a one-time opportunity for trusted and experienced workers who lack proper authorization to earn legal status over time, subject to strict conditions,” said ANLA.
For more information go to www.anla.org .