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AH&LA responds to legislative hearing on H-2B visa program

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) issued the following statement at the conclusion of yesterday’s hearing on the H-2B temporary seasonal worker program held by the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

“The H-2B program has become crucial to the sustainability of our 10,000 property members and 1.8 million employees at hotels, inns, lodges, and resorts throughout the United States,” said Marlene M. Colucci, AH&LA executive vice president for public policy.  “Without access to these temporary, non-immigrant workers, many properties are forced to scale back operations, lay off full-time staff, and deprive guests and customers of the amenities and services they have come to expect and enjoy.”

Due to an increasing scarcity of available labor for temporary positions during seasonal periods, many seasonal employers are forced to use the H-2B program that provides them with access to international workers that work in jobs that last only a few months out of the year.

“During his outstanding testimony, Dan Musser, president of the Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island, Michigan, provided in clear terms the importance of this program to the survival of his business,” continued Colucci“His statement is but one among countless examples from a wide cross-section of industries reliant on access to a temporary seasonal workforce.”

“Contrary to some of the testimony offered by opponents of this program at yesterday’s hearing, the H-2B program is one of the most successful temporary worker programs.  If there are isolated incidents of problems in the program, they are extreme exceptions to the rule,” said Shawn McBurney, AH&LA senior vice president of governmental affairs.  “In fact, hundreds of H-2B employees and employers sent letters to the committee to express their support for the program.”

“Employers noted that not only do they pay their H-2B employees the federally-mandated minimum wage, they often pay them substantially more,” continued McBurney. “In many cases, H-2B workers enjoy subsidized housing, transportation, and meals. Many employers consider their H-2B workers part of their extended family and strongly defended the program. H-2B employees noted that the program was vital to their ability to support their families, stressed the true affection they had for their employers and their jobs, and expressed their strong desire to return to those same employers.”

H-2B employees were stunned that anyone would consider the H-2B program abusive. Both the workers themselves and their employers strongly defended the program.

"AH&LA strongly encourages the leadership of the House and Senate to bring H-2B relief legislation to the floor immediately for a vote that could very well determine the fate of thousands of America’s small businesses."