Landscaping businesses who heavily depend on foreign labor are begging the government to expand the number of visas available for workers, as lawns are apparently going unmowed.
In a call Thursday with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, these businesses said without a big increase in the number of H-2B visas available for low-skilled seasonal workers, lawns and beautification projects will remain incomplete.
“At this point right now, because we have no workers, we are turning down work, we are returning deposits and we are cutting business in half,” said one woman from a New Jersey landscaping firm, according to The Washington Times.
Many of the calls for expansion are coming from the National Association of Landscape Professionals, which has urged landscapers to call members of Congress to put pressure on the administration.
“We understand how critically immediate cap-relief is needed,” NALP said. “Literally, every day that they do not act is another day that you are suffering and are at risk of shutting your doors due to lack of workers to fulfill your existing and potential landscape services. NALP continues to work aggressively on your behalf, but once again we need you to lend your voice to the fight.”
Congress has already given the administration the authority to expand the H-2B program from 66,000 to 135,000 visas for the current fiscal year, and it appears that the Trump administration is receptive to the complaints and will expand the program, despite contradicting strenuous campaign promises from President Donald Trump.
“We’ll likely increase the numbers for this year, perhaps not by the entire number I’m authorized,” Kelly told Congress on Thursday.
Opponents to the move to increase the number of visas are also making their voices heard.
Rosemary Jenks from NumbersUSA, an immigration restrictionist group, said that businesses should do some hard thinking if their viability depends on high rates of foreign workers.
“If your business model is based on recruiting foreign workers above the level authorized in regular law, you probably should rethink your business model,” Jenks said.
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