Failure to renew visa authorizations ignores economic realities
On the front page of the Wednesday, Oct. 17, paper, we ran a story about a cap in the number of H2B visas being offered this year to foreign workers.
Every year, 33,000 H2B visas are issued in the United States for seasonal, non-agricultural work.
A law was passed by Congress that increased the number of H2B workers allowed to work during the winter and that law expires Oct. 1 every year.
This year, the law wasn’t renewed and the cap for winter work visas was reached Sept. 27.
The non-renewal took much of the winter tourism industry by surprise.
Perhaps Congress believed it was taking a stand on immigration by not extending the cap this year.
But what did they really accomplish?
There is no better tinder for a fiery discussion than to mention the word “immigration” these days.
Everyone has an opinion. Few have a workable solution.
Part of the impasse comes from the fact that the political rhetoric of lawmaking does not reflect the truth on the street.
Illegal immigration exists because there is an economic need to be filled.
And, in many cases, limiting the number of visas available does not curb the number of immigrants who come to this country looking for work.
If people can’t get visas, it doesn’t stop them from coming to the United States, and often it doesn’t stop employers from hiring them.
Listen to any coffee shop or dinner table debate about immigration and the question is inevitably asked, “Why don’t they just come here legally? My ancestors did.”
The answer to that question might be in the numbers.
Offering only 33,000 seasonal worker visas a year seems like part of this national denial of our current economic equation.
There are undoubtedly 33,000 jobs in Colorado alone filled by foreign workers right now, let alone in the entire United States.
We are not advocating illegal immigration, but we are asking why immigration laws stubbornly and politically refuse to reflect our current economic reality.
Refusing to extend the cap for H2B visas this year was at best an empty and naïve political move.
Next fall, when Congress is faced with the same decision, we ask that they re-examine their logic and extend the limit of visas.
The tourism industry is very dependent on foreign workers. If they do not come here legally, where are they going to come from?
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