ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan urged federal officials Tuesday to make more H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program visas available in the interest of Maryland’s $355 million seafood industry and supply chain.
In a letter to Secretaries Scalia and Wolf, Gov. Hogan said 500 H-2B seasonal workers are needed for Maryland’s 20 licensed crab-picking houses in a typical year.
He claimed that research conducted by the University of Maryland indicates that for every H-2B temporary worker in crab processing helps create 2.5 jobs for American citizens.
“In support of Maryland’s seafood industry and other seasonal employers, I request that you take immediate action to increase the number of H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program visas—now capped at 66,000—to the maximum allowable under federal law,” writes Governor Hogan. “These workers are vital to rural Maryland and in particular our Eastern Shore. In addition to lifting the cap, I ask that you partner with Congress and Maryland’s congressional delegation to finally find a long-term solution to this issue.”
Maryland’s blue crab harvest season starts on April 1.
He added without the temporary workers, along with an end to the “arbitrary lottery system,” local seafood processors won’t be able to open or will have to reduce their operations.
In his letter, the governor also invited Secretaries Scalia and Wolf to personally visit a Chesapeake Bay crab house or processor.