Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants more visas for foreign workers to help crab picking industry
By Brian Witte
Jan 21, 2020 at 7:26 PM
Financial need can often force workers from their homes in Mexico to Maryland's Eastern Shore to fulfill temporary low-wage service jobs in the crab industry.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday urged federal officials to allow more H-2B visas for foreign workers to help the state’s $355 million seafood industry and seasonal employers.
Hogan, a Republican, made the request in a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. Hogan also called for a long-term solution.
“These workers are vital to rural Maryland and in particular our Eastern Shore," Hogan wrote. "In addition to lifting the cap, I ask that you partner with Congress and Maryland’s congressional delegation to finally find a long-term solution to this issue.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, said Maryland’s federal delegation has repeatedly pushed President Donald Trump’s administration to release more H-2B visas. Van Hollen said he has visited crab houses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and seen firsthand “the dire need for these employees.”
“This year, we are continuing to urge the administration to release additional visas quickly and will do everything in our power to support our local businesses and industry,” Van Hollen said.
Hogan wrote that without an end to the “arbitrary lottery system,” local seafood processors will be unable to open for business or be forced to “significantly reduce their operations.”
“Another year of hardship could permanently damage Maryland’s sustainable seafood industry, causing these iconic family and small businesses to close or constrict, which would have a devastating impact on commerce and jobs, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas of the state,” Hogan wrote.