VIDEO: Appropriations Committee Unanimously Passes Amendment Pingree Cosponsored to Boost Available H-2B Visas
Washington, D.C.—During markup today of the FY19 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) cosponsored with Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) to make more H-2B visas available, a critical source of seasonal workers in Maine.
Video of Pingree speaking in support of the amendment and discussing the shortage of labor for Maine’s seasonal businesses:
The amendment provides for a Returning Worker Exemption with a two-year look back, meaning that returning H-2B workers will not count toward the cap on available visas. It also switches to quarterly distribution of visas and switches from an all-or-nothing lottery to a proportional allocation system.
The committee also adopted two other Pingree amendments—one keeps migrant siblings together while in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody and the other provides accountability to a Trump Administration task force that is reviewing records of naturalized citizens to look for a basis to strip their citizenship.
“It’s extremely concerning that the Trump Administration might be spending taxpayer resources to look for ways to strip away citizenship from new Americans. Oversight and transparency are needed to ensure that the denaturalization process—generally reserved for war criminals—is not abused as part of the Administration’s ideological anti-immigrant campaign,” said Pingree. “I’m also glad to see bipartisan support for keeping migrant siblings together at the border. It’s the least we can do for those families who have been harmed by the President’s zero-tolerance policy."
The meeting is being livestreamed at https://youtu.be/OoK1P8CJa9k and is expected to last the entire day. Pingree has also spoken in support of an amendment regarding DHS detention of pregnant migrant women and hopes to speak on another regarding child separation policies.
Background on denaturalization—Pingree’s amendment will add report language requiring DHS to report on the efforts of a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services task force that has been charged with reviewing old files of naturalized citizens to determine whether any can be stripped of their citizenship based on former violations of immigration law. Concerned that naturalized citizens could lose their citizenship based on errors or technicalities, Pingree is introducing the language to provide oversight of the task force and prevent the effort from becoming another weapon against immigrants. Traditionally, this process has been limited to extreme cases, such as former Nazis and terrorists.
Background on sibling separation—During recent markup of the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations, Pingree was successful in passing an amendment to keep migrant child siblings together while in custody of the Office of Refugee Settlement. Today’s amendment will do the same for children in DHS custody, whether they arrived at the border as unaccompanied minors or were separated from their parents as a result of President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy.