ANLA’s Craig Regelbrugge Discusses H-2B Legislation

The American Nursery & Landscape Association's senior director of government relations, Craig Regelbrugge, was a featured guest on a Colorado Public Radio program exploring immigration and the H-2B guest worker program. In a 20-minute interview, Regelbrugge made the case for why employers often turn to H-2B to supplement their workforce. He described the demographic changes underway in America, including the aging baby boom population and shrinking growth in the pool of younger people entering the workforce, as justification for programs like H-2B.

“There simply are not enough domestic workers in this country available to take all of the job opportunities that our economy is capable of creating,” observed Regelbrugge. “Independent sources, such as Federal Reserve Chairman Allan Greenspan, have underscored that if we are to sustain a vibrant economy, we’re going to need to look at multiple approaches including a reasonable immigration policy,” he continued.

Regelbrugge also emphasized that access to seasonal H-2B workers, and other temporary workers in sectors like agriculture, creates year-round jobs for Americans in companies, like landscape contracting and maintenance firms, who are able to expand their workforce for peak seasons. Finally, he asserted that legal channels for foreign workers to enter and depart the U.S. in a safe and regulated way are part of the answer to the illegal immigration crisis that dominates the daily news.

Historically, the H-2B program has been constrained by a cap of 66,000 on the number of visas, which may be issued annually. This number represents a tiny fraction of the seasonal job opportunities created by user industries such as landscape contracting and maintenance, restaurants, and resorts. Legislation passed by Congress last May, with the active leadership and lobbying support of ANLA, temporarily relaxed the cap but the fix expires at the end of September 2006. ANLA and other affected industries are working together to achieve a more permanent resolution.

The full interview is available at: http://cpr.org/co_matters/ (search under Regelbrugge).

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