Gerlach Backs Small and Seasonal Businesses Act

Press Release

Date: April 1, 2008
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Immigration

Gerlach Backs Small and Seasonal Businesses Act

Urges House Speaker to heed bipartisan calls for reauthorizing H-2B Visas

Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-06) called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday to allow a full House vote on the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act.

The bipartisan measure sponsored by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) would allow landscapers, hotels and other small, seasonal businesses to continue hiring workers with H-2B visas who have entered this country legally. Businesses turn to these workers during peak periods after certifying that American-born workers cannot be found to fill the jobs.

However, Speaker Pelosi has bottled up the legislation in hopes of pressuring Congress to vote on bills granting amnesty to foreign workers who ignore the nation's immigration laws.

"Many small businesses in my district are heading into peak seasons critical to their survival," Congressman Gerlach said. "Each day that Speaker Pelosi continues blocking debate on renewing the H-2B visa program increases the risk that companies will close and law-abiding workers will lose their paychecks."

H-2B visas are temporary visas granted to workers in non-agricultural jobs. The number of H-2B visas has been capped at 66,000 per year. A provision exempting returning workers from counting against that cap expired on Sept. 30.

The Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association estimated that failure to reauthorize an exemption for returning workers will cause the industry to lose at least $26 million in revenue and will force companies to lay off a minimum of 300 full-time workers who are U.S. citizens.