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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In the Nation

Will Trump Administration Increase H-2B Cap?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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Landscape WorkersWASHINGTON, D.C. - In late April, Congress passed an appropriations bill to fund the federal government through the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30, 2017. Contained in that bill was language that provided the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to double the number of H-2B visas available, from 66,000 to 129,000, if the secretary found that there was “need.”

The Homeland Security secretary is under no obligation to make a decision on expanding the number of visas and there is no established timeline for a decision. The provision in the appropriations bill giving the secretary the authority to increase the number of visas will expire at the end of this fiscal year in September, so time is of the essence.

Predicting the future direction of Trump Administration policies is not an easy task, but recent events may give us some clues.

On May 25 at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the DHS budget, Secretary Kelly told Senator Lisa Murkowski that he was seriously considering providing some, but not the full increase in the H-2B cap. (https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings/review-of-the-fy2018-budget-request-for-the-us-department-of-homeland-security video at 1:54:50).

Will Secretary Kelly’s statement hold when this issue gets into the cement mixer that is the White House decision-making process?

Given that this decision involves a Trump campaign promise, it is very unlikely that Kelly will make this decision without White House involvement. If the direction that the Trump Administration takes is to approve an increase in H-2B visas, we will probably know that in a week or two. On the other hand, if the decision is not to increase the number of visas, the Administration may just let the clock run out until September 30, when Secretary Kelly’s authority to increase the number of visas will expire.


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