The American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) expressed the growing frustration of the green industry with Congress' inability to increase the H-2B temporary guest worker program cap. The H-2B program annually grants 66,000 work visas for employers demonstrating a seasonal need for foreign workers. In March of 2004, the cap was reached unexpectedly early, leaving many industries without access to workers needed to keep their businesses competitive.

Senate and House Republicans failed to include a bipartisan amendment to fix the problem from the omnibus spending bill passed during the recent “lame duck” session of Congress. H-2B employers and the multi-sector Essential Worker Immigration Coalition were unable to overcome the major challenges to a bipartisan compromise amendment that would have brought much needed relief to the service industry.

“What every American needs to understand is that there has never been, nor will there ever be, an H-2B job that goes to a foreign guest worker at the expense of a U.S. worker,” stated ANLA Director of Legislative Relations, John Meredith.

H-2B offers the only legal channel for semi-skilled workers to enter and fill seasonal service sector jobs for which too few Americans apply. By failing to act, Congress has inadvertently encouraged illegal immigration by not fixing the one legal program available to employers who need to fill seasonal jobs.

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