NABTU Raises Alarm Over H2B Visa Increase in Congressional Budget Bill

May 2, 2017

Tom Owens

NABTU Raises Alarm Over H2B Visa Increase in Congressional Budget Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – The following statement was released today by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) in reaction to the budget deal approved by the U.S. Congress that contains a provision to increase the number of H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2017:

“North America’s Building Trades Unions are frustrated by actions taken by the US House Appropriations Committee to insert text late into the night on April 30 into a compromise spending bill that would allow for an increase in the number of H-2B visas for FY2017, from 66,000 to a potential for 70,000.

“This maneuver runs directly counter to President’s Trump’s recent executive actions to ‘buy American and hire American,’ and which were specifically crafted to instruct the Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State to take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse in our immigration system in order to protect workers in the United States and their economic conditions.

“The H-2B visa was conceived as a low-skilled, guest worker program that is meant to be used by employers to fill seasonal and temporary jobs, but which has now been all too often used by unscrupulous employers in the construction industry as a means to exploit guest workers and drive down community wage and benefit standards.

“The many horrific abuses within the H-2B program have long been documented, and NABTU has repeatedly sought reforms to address the shortcomings in the law that have enabled these abuses to continued unabated.

“The language inserted into this spending bill does nothing to address or reform the fundamental flaws in the program which have caused harm to foreign and American workers alike.  Instead, it doubles down on bad policy which will have the effect of further jeopardizing the jobs, wages and benefits of American construction workers, while ensuring that guest workers remain vulnerable to abuse.

“NABTU will aggressively work with Congress to make structural changes to the H-2B visa program so that it is confined to its original mission of assisting employers with seasonal and temporary employment needs, while preventing it from being abused to erode the job and economic prospects of U.S. construction workers.”

# # #  

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) is an alliance of 14 national and international unions that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada.  Along with our contractor partners, our unions invest over $1.2 billion annually to fund an operate over 1,900 apprenticeship training centers across North America.