BUSINESSES IN US BEACH TOWNS SCROUNGE FOR FOREIGN WORKERS
At this time of the year, The Friendly Fisherman on Cape Cod is usually bustling with foreign students clearing tables and helping prepare orders of clam strips or fish and chips. But because of a freeze on visas, Janet Demetri won’t be employing the 20 or so workers this summer. So as the crowds rush back, Demetri must work with nine employees for her restaurant and market — forcing her to shutter the business twice a week. “It’s really disturbing because we are really busy,” said Demetri. “We can’t keep up once the doors are open.”
The Trump administration announced last month that it was extending a ban on green cards and adding many temporary visas to the freeze, including J-1 cultural exchange visas and H-2B visas. Businesses from forestry to fisheries to hospitality depend on these visas, though there are exceptions for the food processing sector. Hardest hit by the ban are beach communities and mountain getaways up and down the East Coast from parts of New Hampshire to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Michael Casey and David Sharp wrote for the Associated Press (AP) on July 13, 2020.
Businesses said they want to hire Americans but are in regions with tiny labor pools that are no match for the millions of tourists visiting each summer. Companies also face the challenge of convincing unemployed workers, many who are still collecting federal benefits, to take a job in the hospitality industry amid a pandemic.
The move was billed as a chance to free up 525,000 jobs to Americans hard hit by the economic downturn, though the administration provided no evidence to support that. Supporters of immigration reform have hailed the move and insisted it should be easy to find Americans to bus tables and sell souvenirs at popular tourist destinations.