US Expands Guest Worker Program for Haiti and Central America | Migration News

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The number of H-2B visas will increase by 20,000, including 6,500 for Central America and Haiti, as migration peaks.

The United States is expanding its guest worker program with 20,000 more visas available for non-agricultural seasonal guest workers, as the number of migrants hoping to enter the country increases at its southern border.

The additional H-2B visas would be on top of the annual allocation of 66,000 visas for the fiscal year, a U.S. official told Reuters news agency on Monday. An official announcement on increased numbers, including 6,500 visas for workers from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti through March 31, is expected later today.

The expansion of the H-2B visa program, used to employ landscapers, cleaners, hotel workers, and construction and carnival workers, among others, comes as the U.S. job market continues to shrink. face shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House has touted efforts to create legal pathways for migrants to come to the United States, as record numbers of migrants were stopped at the southern border under President Joe Biden’s administration.

Even if all 6,500 visas are used, this represents only a fraction of the migrants trying to reach the United States. The U.S. Border Patrol arrested more than 700,000 migrants from these four countries in fiscal year 2021.

The 20,000 additional visas represent a slight decrease from the 22,000 made available for the second half of the financial year.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration reached an agreement with the Mexican government to restore a controversial Trump-era policy that required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearings in US courts.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Migrant Protection Protocols (MPPs), dubbed “Remain in Mexico,” restarted Dec. 6. Once fully operational again, the program will see people returned to Mexico through seven US state border crossings. from California, Arizona and Texas.

Some 70,000 people, including children, have been deported to Mexico under the MPP, something Biden initially sought to end as part of his pledge to reverse some of his predecessor Donald Trump’s toughest anti-immigration policies. .

Following criticism from rights groups, the Biden administration reserved 6,000 H-2B visas for the three Central American countries in the second half of fiscal year 2021, which ended September 30. , but did not fill all those slots.

The addition of Haiti follows Biden’s decision to deport some Haitians after thousands of people arrived in South Texas in September. The country has faced political instability and violence following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July as well as natural disasters.

The news follows a fatal truck crash earlier this month in southern Mexico that killed 54 migrants and injured 54 others.

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