H-2A & H-2B Increasing. Path to Legal Status?

The Economist January 18th, 2020 pp26 reports Immigration Policy “Temporary Toil” “America is witnessing a quest-worker boom, even under Donald Trump”

Guest worker visas H-2B (Non-Agriculture) and H-2A (Agriculture) have increased from a total of 103,000 in 2010 to 408,000 in 2019. Although H2-B are capped at 66,000 per year “the administration has granted more H-2Bs each year” with about 150,000 in 2019. H2-A, are unlimited and have ramped up each year and are at 240,000 in 2019 compared to 120,000 in 2015. These guest workers are legally-hired if an employer can prove, to the Department of Labor, “they cannot find an American to do the job” which is especially true in agriculture.

Guest workers are less expensive because neither the employee or employer pay any Social Security, Medicare and unemployment taxes. Over the decades, various forms of agriculture guest workers have existed notably the “bracero” program dating back to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Labor advocates worry that these workers, mostly from Mexico, essentially undercut living wages and were once dubbed “legalized slavery”. Recently, federal legislation has passed the U.S. House proposing to simplify the hiring process for employers but also including benefits for guest workers that would ultimately render legal status-Green Card . The U.S. Senate has yet to take-up these proposed rule-changes created by the Department of Labor.

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