|Norberto Labrador and brothers apply for temporary work visas|
in Durango, Mexico. (By Luis Antonio Rojas, Washington Post)
That has forced farmers to start hiring legal workers, something they have been reluctant to do. "Temporary work visa programs are heavily regulated, requiring employers to provide standard housing for workers and compensation for those injured on the job, for example. Some farmers say the system is too difficult and expensive to navigate." Don Hartman, a vegetable farmer in Deming, N.M., advised: "They need to make [the program] less cumbersome, less regulated, less political. Those people want to come and work and go back home and we need the help. Why can’t they make a single program that will work for both of us?"
Other employers who have traditionally relied on undocumented immigrants, like shrimpers, meatpackers, and construction companies, are feeling the strain. Unlike H-2A visas, which have no cap, H-2B visas, which cover other unskilled labor, are capped at 66,000 annually. "This year, employers applied for 97,800 nonagricultural visas in the first five minutes of the visa lottery, far more than ever before, crashing the Labor Department’s website," Sieff and Gowen report.