PLANET had been meeting with numerous congressional offices demanding that the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security (DOL and DHS) resume H-2B processing and stop using the March 4 court decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Perez v. Perez, No. 3:14-cv-682 (N.D. Florida, Mar. 4, 2015) to impose burdensome new requirements on H-2B program users. The court’s injunction prohibits enforcement of DOL’s 2008 rule, including the all of wage and hour proceedings and investigations.
PLANET consultant Laurie Flanagan chairs the H-2B Workforce Coalition on behalf of the association and AmericanHort. The Coalition and PLANET have been leading a grassroots effort to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill through phone calls, meetings, emails and the use of social media. These efforts are making a huge difference and are getting lawmakers attention. Since PLANET initiated the #saveH2B campaign on Twitter two weeks ago, we’ve had 9,242 posts by 342 users with nearly 1 million impressions.
Numerous members of Congress and senators have written to DOL and DHS demanding relief, and additional Hill letters are in the works. As a result of these efforts, the Secretary of Labor has also faced tough questioning during recent congressional hearings. DOL has asked for a stay (and just yesterday was granted) of the court’s decision so it can begin processing H-2B applications again. Further, DOL and DHS have said that they plan to issue an interim final rule by April 30 to address issues arising from the Perez v. Perez court decision.
In a Florida case challenging the process for issuing H-2B visas for seasonal employees, the Small and Season Business Legal Center has asked the court to extend its order barring the DOL from using the challenged process. The DOL claimed that the court’s order effectively shut down the H-2B process and asked the court to allow it to continue using the challenged procedures until April 15. The SSBLC argues that the DOL created a false dilemma and that it in fact could continue the H-2B process without using the invalid procedures. It also argues that the lawsuit itself was a sham because both the plaintiff and DOL wanted the same thing–to alter the H2-B process.
DHS announced it will resume processing H-2B applications, but premium processing will remain suspended.