After the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a decision to halt the processing of H-2B visas, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), along with its sister organizations, issued the following slightly edited statement and quotes on March 17:
In response to respective decisions by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the landscape sector represented by the undersigned organizations is calling for the immediate resumption of H-2B visa application processing. Many small businesses in the landscape sector, including dealers, distributors and contractors, rely on the program as a legal resource for temporary seasonal employees, and as a critical key to the success of their businesses. While the decision was prompted by a recent U.S. District Court ruling, we see nothing that would stop the DHS from resuming the processing of these important visa applications. We urge people to contact their Congresspersons and Senators and ask for them to call for immediate DHS resumption of H-2B visa processing.
“The Department of Labor’s decision was no small thing,” said Kris Kiser, CEO and president of OPEI. “The H-2B program is critical to the workforce needs of many U.S. industries – including ours.”
Sabeena Hickman, CEO of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), added, “Our industry depends on seasonal, temporary workers. Without the H-2B program, fully up and running, our industry will be immediately – and negatively – impacted.”
Ralph Egües, executive director of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA), remarked, “Today, more than 500,000 U.S. Hispanics are employed in the landscape industry, many in supervisory, managerial and administrative roles made possible by the yearly hiring of foreign workers needed to meet seasonal demand. Since 2008, DOL has attempted to burden the H-2B program with rules that make it a more expensive and less predictable option for employers, placing the jobs of many U.S. Hispanics at risk.”
“The H-2B program is of utmost urgency,” said Richard Lawhun, president and CEO of the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA). “There is a short window of time for our dealers of outdoor power equipment and their customers to receive workers for a season which starts NOW.”
For more information, contact OPEI at (703) 549-7600, NALP at (703) 736-9666, NHLA at (877) 260-7995 and NAEDA at (636) 349-5000.