A crucial labor pipeline for Maryland seafood businesses reopened Friday when the Department of Homeland Security promised as many as 6,000 more visas for foreign workers.Seafood processors and watermen on the Eastern Shore rely on the H-2B visa program to supply workers willing to perform the grueling, dirty jobs necessary to sustain their business. Not enough Americans have been willing to take on the work, they say.More than 3,000 guest workers were certified last year by the U.S. Department of Labor to perform jobs such as crab picking and landscaping in Maryland. But the number of such temporary visas is capped annually at 66,000, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services hit that limit March 26, leaving many in the state’s seafood industry short on workers for the April 1 start of crab season.On Friday, Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said she had persuaded Homeland Security, which oversees the immigration service, to perform an audit in which 3,000 to 6,000 unused visas were discovered and now will be made available nationwide.”It’s good news. That’s the bottom line,” said Bill Sieling, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association. “It’s a great opportunity for our companies to stay in business. If… Read full this story
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