ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan is urging the federal government to increase the number of available H-2B Temporary Work visas to assist in the state's seafood industry and supply chain.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Hogan called for a permanent solution to provide certainty to the Eastern Shore and other rural parts of Maryland.
“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.”
Typically, 450 H-2B seasonal workers are needed each year in Maryland’s 23 licensed crab picking houses.
Hogan's letter cited research from the University of Maryland which suggests 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.”