Mikulski Gets 3 Year Extension to H2B Program that Provides Seasonal Crab Workers for MD

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today announced that the Senate's immigration bill incorporates her legislation to enact a three-year extension of a crucial provision from her "Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act," which was signed into law by President Bush in May 2005.

"Small businesses across this country count on the H2B visa program to keep their businesses afloat. We all know how important our seasonal industries are to our state economies and local communities," said Senator Mikulski. "The Senate's inclusion of my legislation highlights what every member who has heard from their constituents knows - the need for this H2B program and the need for it to continue."

The "Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act" made significant changes to the federal H2B (non-skilled seasonal worker) visa program that resulted in saving thousands of small businesses around the country. Among the changes, it exempted returning seasonal workers from counting against the national cap of 66,000 people, created new anti-fraud provisions and ensured a fair allocation of H2B visas among spring and summer employees. The cap exemption, which provided significant relief to Maryland's crab industry that often hires the same dependable workers every year, is set to expire on September 30, 2006.

This provision in the immigration bill also:

* PROTECTS OUR BORDERS by rewarding immigrants and employers who play by the rules: workers who come here and return to their families when they are finished with their job would get to come back to this country for the next season.

* PROTECTS AMERICAN WORKERS by requiring employers to recruit American workers before hiring immigrant workers and by making sure small businesses can continue to operate to pay their U.S. workers 12 months out of the year.

* KEEPS SMALL AND SEASONAL BUSINESSES OPEN by guaranteeing the labor supply small businesses need during their peak seasons when they can't find American workers to take the jobs.

"When businesses cannot find local workers to fill their seasonal needs, they can then turn the H2B program," Senator Mikulski continued. "Without being able to get the seasonal workers they need, these businesses would not survive."

The opinions expressed in this article represent the views of Senator Barbara Mikulski, or the specific person or organization that is quoted. Senator Mikulski is one of two federal senators for the state of Maryland. She is classified as a Class III Senator. Senators are elected to six-year terms, and every two years the members of one class-approximately one-third of the Senators-face election or reelection. Terms for Senators in Class I expire in 2007, Class II in 2009, and Class III in 2011.

Ms. Mikulski's website is located at http://mikulski.senate.gov/. Her office can be reached at (202) 224-4654. More biographical info on Ms. Mikulski can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Mikulski.

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