ANNAPOLIS, MD—With Maryland’s blue crab harvest season underway, Governor Larry Hogan today urged federal officials to make more H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program visas available to help protect Maryland’s $355 million seafood industry and supply chain.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, the governor also called for a long-term, permanent solution to provide certainty to rural Maryland, particularly the Eastern Shore. Read the governor’s letter here.
“In support of Maryland’s seafood industry and other seasonal employers, I request that you take immediate action to eliminate the unfair lottery system and increase the number of H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program visas—now capped at 66,000—to the maximum allowable under federal law and under the legislative language included in the omnibus bill,” said Governor Hogan. “These essential workers are vital to Maryland’s seafood industry and market, which has grown to include regional, national, and international reach.”
In a typical year, 450 H-2B seasonal workers are needed for Maryland’s 23 licensed crab picking houses. Research conducted by the University of Maryland indicates that every H-2B temporary worker in crab processing helps create 2.5 jobs for American citizens.
“Without these temporary workers, and without an end to the arbitrary lottery system, local Maryland seafood processors will be unable to open for business or be forced to significantly reduce their operations,” said Governor Hogan. “Continued hardship could permanently damage America’s seafood industry, causing these iconic family and small businesses to close here in Maryland, especially those on the Eastern Shore.”
In his letter, the governor also invited Secretaries Mayorkas and Walsh to personally visit a Chesapeake Bay crab house or processor.