BALTIMORE (WJZ) — To help seasonal American businesses, the Trump administration is allowing more foreign workers into the U.S.
Alex DeMetrick reports, that’s welcome news to Maryland’s seafood industry.
It’s the height of Maryland’s crab season right now, and at J.M. Clayton Seafood Company in Cambridge, crab picking is going full throttle.
Those doing the work are from Mexico, here on temporary work visas called H-2Bs, because the company can’t find local Americans to pick crabs. Not with other opportunities available to them.
“They can learn trades, community colleges, they want to better themselves, get a 12-month job, and these seasonal seafood jobs, we just can’t offer that,” says Jack Brooks.
When 86-year-old Cornelius Johnson started picking crabs, it was local families who did the work.
“No, no,” he says. “They don’t do it anymore. They move into better things, I guess.”
The demand for seasonal labor has prompted the Trump administration to free up 15,000 more H-2B visas. These workers were part of the 66,000 issued earlier in the year.
Now that more are coming, “hopefully some of our colleagues in the seafood industry will take advantage of that,” Brooks says. “We have had a lot of them locked out of the program.”
The workers here not only keep this business working. They keep a lot of Americans working.
Watermen need the picking houses to sell to, who in turn support boat builders and fishing equipment. Work is also generated for shipping and retail.
“American jobs are created by each and every H-2B worker coming to work in the seafood industry in Maryland,” according to Brooks.
Meaning 100 of these workers actually keep 250 Americans working, too.
Demand for seasonal H-2B workers is intense, from not only seafood but agriculture and the hospitality industry.