Keating: ‘Last-Ditch Effort’ Underway to Secure More Seasonal Workers

CCB MEDIA PHOTO: Bourne Congressman William Keating speaks during a Town Hall at Nauset Regional Middle School in Orleans Thursday.

HYANNIS – An effort to get more seasonal H-2B visa workers for businesses on Cape Cod seems to be falling short.

Bourne Congressman William Keating says a last-ditch effort is being made to pass a “returning worker” exemption through budget appropriations.

The provision would allow workers in the hospitality, landscaping and construction industries who previously worked in the U.S. to return without counting towards the federal cap.

“A long range solution for this, and I think a pretty clear cut one and I don’t really see the controversy in it at all, is to move forward and have a relief from that cap, which is very small,” Keating said.

The federal H-2B visa cap is 66,000 per year. Half of those are held until the second half of the fiscal year, which is April through September, for regions with summer seasonal economies, like Cape Cod and the Islands.

Keating said the seasonal workers are vital for the local economy and there are no alternatives.

“It’s just not the revenue for our restaurants and hospitality, it’s also the workers here at some of those restaurants,” Keating said. “Without the necessary compliment of workers they won’t have jobs. So it’s really an employment issue for people here on the Islands and on the Cape.”

Keating said the good news is that the local economy is booming and another great year is expected on the Cape.

“The bad side is we need some people to move that forward,” Keating said.

The “returning worker” provision was enacted by Congress in 2016.

According to Keating, many of the workers return to the same businesses year after year and are welcomed back by employers and customers.

Last year, Keating worked with the Department of Labor to resolve H-2B visa processing delays.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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