While the Trump administration is considering a new policy to greatly expand the powers of the Department of Homeland Security to expedite deportations, it acted on Monday to permit more than 15,000 temporary foreign seasonal workers this year to receive visas. The H2B visas are for non-agricultural guest workers, many of whom work in amusement parks and recreational centers. While federal law caps their number at 66,000 per year nationwide, Congress gave authority to DHS to permit more. This came after consultations with the Department of Labor, after it was determined that US businesses would be harmed if not enabled to hire foreign workers for the summer season.
Many employers have complained that the action by DHS comes too late this year to allow full staffing at the beginning of the summer season. However, authority to grant the additional visas was not provided by Congress until May -- some six months later than usual.
In 2016, the federal government allowed 13,382 additional visas more than the statutory cap so as to meet employers’ seasonal demand. Businesses applying for the visa program must tell DHS that their bottom line would be irreparably harmed without the additional workers. In years past, college students once filled positions in seasonal jobs. However, fewer are willing to fill those jobs.