Is the World Upside Down?
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Here’s a disturbing report from the field. The H-2B community continues its fight for renewal of the exemption for returning workers from the punitive 66,000 cap. It’s a steep climb, made steeper by a hostile June 8 hearing chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). At least for those who would presume that Republicans are generally friendlier to business, the world seemed truly upside down.
The Majority witnesses (selected by the Republican side) included a building trades union boss, a liberal economic policy think tank analyst, a worker advocate, and a mouthpiece of the anti-immigrant movement. Piling on, full Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) entered a statement into the hearing record embracing the faulty analysis of the liberal, pro-union economic policy think tank witness, Daniel Costa.
The Democrats (in this case Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York) gave their lone witness slot to a free-market economist championing a pro-employer view. The testimony offered by Dr. Steve Bronars, former head of the economics department at the University of Texas – Austin, presented a clear-eyed assessment of how H-2B workers lift up the success of seasonal employers and their American workforce. Bronars advised AmericanHort and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform during debate leading to the passage of the 2013 Senate immigration reform bill.
In a show of industry unity, AmericanHort and the National Association of Landscape Professionals also submitted a joint statement for the hearing record.
So it was a generally frustrating day in a long-running effort that continues, with no end in sight. Yet fortunately, we seized on the chance to contribute a measure of balance to the official record of a hearing that started out stacked against our industry and common sense.
Brought to you by Lighthouse, an AmericanHort Progam. Article by Craig Regelbrugge.