WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) recently met with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Ben Cassidy. She raised the issue of the near 100-percent rate of H-2B denials that has been affecting Guam since early 2016, stressing the impact this has had on the workforce needed to support Guam’s economy. In particular, she noted the construction and health care industries are among the most urgently impacted, which could affect the hundreds of millions of dollars in military construction projects that are projected this year and next year.
Since late 2015 U.S. Customs and Immigrations Services has either denied or issued a request for evidence for nearly 100 percent of all applications for H-2B visas in Guam.
This has reduced the number of H-2B workers to near zero, a loss of thousands of workers, including those used to support military construction projects and healthcare associated with the Marine relocation to Guam.
Bordallo included legislation that would provide relief for Department of Defense-funded construction and the healthcare industry in the House-passed fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act last year; however the provision was removed before final passage. She is again seeking to include language in both the House and Senate bills this year, but is also working with the Department of Homeland Security to address this situation and provide immediate relief for the Guam community.
“I stressed to Assistant Secretary Cassidy the importance of the H-2B program [in] Guam, particularly to the military buildup, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars in military construction. This change was a result of internal decisions, and I believe that DHS can address this situation internally, without legislative action. I asked Assistant Secretary Cassidy to discuss the issue with DHS Secretary [John F.] Kelly and leadership within DHS. He committed to raising the issue and communicating openly with me and my staff. In the meantime, I continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to address this situation legislatively and provide relief to our island.” (PR)