Rep. Cuellar Helps Small Businesses Find Temporary Workers
Creates Exemption to Cap on H-2B Visas
Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar announced the passage of bipartisan measures to help American employers hire enough temporary guest workers to keep their businesses going. The measures were part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, a bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year, which passed earlier this month.
In his role on the Homeland Security subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, he co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment with Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) to allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to create exemptions to the 66,000 cap on H-2B visas for foreign people temporarily entering the United States to work.
“I co-sponsored this legislation because I listened to the needs of American small businesses,” explained Congressman Cuellar. “The cap of 66,000 H-2B visas is arbitrary; it does not always reflect our labor needs. Workers who use this program are not trying to immigrate, but simply to work hard. They pay into our tax system and help our economy. Employers, including many in Texas, rely on these workers to fill temporary jobs that locals don’t want. Allowing the Secretary to make exemptions to the cap will make sure those businesses have access to a steady flow of experienced, trusted workers.”
The H-2B visa guest worker program is used primarily by American small businesses to hire foreign workers for temporary and seasonal work in the United States in non-agricultural industries such as landscaping, independent hotels and resorts, and theme parks, which struggle to find Americans willing to take their temporary jobs.
Contrary to popular belief, guest workers pay all applicable taxes, including Social Security, Medicare, and sales tax for any purchases they make, yet they do not collect benefits in return.
The law guarantees American workers the first chance at every job. When there are not enough American workers to fill demand, those jobs are later filled by H-2B temporary workers. Even then, demand for workers is even greater than what is allowed by the current 66,000 visa cap. Congressman Cuellar designed the exemption to ease some of that burden.