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Friday, August 19, 2011

Call to Action: Racing Industry’s Use of H-2B Visa Program in Jeopardy!

CALLING ALL HORSEMEN TO ACTION – WE NEED YOU!

Dear Horsemen:

I have an urgent request for action in order to save our ability to use the temporary worker visa during a time a great change in the H-2B temporary visa program. Changes in interpretation of existing regulations that directly affect the ability of horsemen to use the H-2B visa are currently being considered at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). While the National Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association has been working tirelessly to advocate on behalf of its trainer members with the USCIS regarding a recent negative interpretation affecting horsemen, the scale of proposed changes in the visa regulations requires a massive effort on behalf of all the trainer members to directly call your members of Congress to let them know that proposed changes are a direct threat to horsemen and their ability to secure essential legal labor help in the form of the H-2B temporary worker visa.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND SENATORS!

Regularly, when horsemen association representatives meet with Congressional members and their staffs, they are told that direct calls from actual constituents from their districts are more powerful than association requests. A large number of phone calls to the Washington D.C. offices of Congressional members can make a significant impression on a Congressional member, and they will often pick up the phone and call the USCIS officials directly to let USCIS know their constituents are being negatively affected by a particular interpretation of the law. It is very important that horsemen let their Congressional Representatives know that current interpretations are currently hurting horsemen and regulations that are proposed to go into effect in the near future will make the H-2B program unnecessarily complex and expensive. The contact information for your local Congressional Representative and Senator can easily be found by entering your zip code on the following website:

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

When you speak with a staff member of your Representative or Senator, here are some points and information that you can provide to them to explain the essential nature of this visa program to horsemen:
  1. The H-2B program is essential for seasonal businesses that cannot fill jobs with American workers despite intensive recruitment efforts. Although the American horse industry goes to great lengths to locate interested Americans to work as grooms and stable attendants, there are not enough American workers to fill these positions during the busy racing season.
  2. The H-2B visa program is the only legal way to hire extra workers to make up for the shortfall when not enough Americans are available fill vacant positions.
  3. The H-2B visa is essential to meet labor shortage needs during the peak of racing season. Shortages of experienced grooms and stable attendants is a safety and financial issue. Without enough qualified grooms, people and horses get hurt. Also, without enough grooms, trainers can’t keep as many horses, and this causes losses of American jobs.
  4. The H-2B program is important to workers. For H-2B workers, the program provides well-paying seasonal jobs that allow them to provide for their families and still maintain their homes in their native countries. This program is also important for American workers whose year-round positions are reliant upon seasonal laborers during peak seasons. In companies that use the H-2B program, both American and H-2B unskilled workers are well compensated; often well above the federal minimum wage andthe prevailing wage.
  5. The recent interpretations of USCIS officers to deny horse trainers’ H-2B visas is unfair and unsupported by the law and even in conflict with the U.S. Department of Labor’s interpretations.
  6. Horsemen must have consistent approval of H-2B visas that are filed in good faith.
  7. Consistent approval of H-2B visas is fundamental to the financial health of trainers and workplace safety of all stable area workers.
  8. Approval of the H-2B visas allows trainers to meet urgent labor needs and therefore enables trainers to hire Americans in higher level and more sophisticated positions.

PLEASE CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES TODAY TO URGE THEM TO PROTECT THE HORSEMAN’S RIGHT TO TAKE PART IN A STREAMLINED, COMMON SENSE H-2B VISA PROGRAM!

Information provided by attorney Will Velie of Horseman Labor Solutions, an immigration services company that represents horsemen throughout the United States in immigration matters. Horseman Labor Solutions, a sponsor of the National HBPA, can be reached online at www.horsemanlabor.com or by phone at 1-877-678-RACE.

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