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Labor Department Seeks New Process For Hiring Foreign Guest Workers

Matthew Casey
A temporary farmworker walks toward the bus that brought him to the Rio Valley Market in the Harquahala Valley.

The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a change in the way employers try to recruit U.S. workers, before they hire foreign guest labor through the H-2A and H-2B visa programs.

The H-2A program is for temporary farmworkers, for whom demand in Arizona has grown in recent years.

H-2B visas are for non-agricultural, seasonal workers — like a cook at a resort.

But before employers can tap into foreign guest labor, they have to seek U.S. workers through ads in newspapers.

The ads could eventually go on the internet instead.

“This is a proposed rule that basically brings a small piece of immigration law into the 21st Century,” said Julia Gelatt, senior policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

The Labor Department may still let some employers use newspaper ads, Gelatt said. If the job postings do go online, Gelatt does not expect a big increase in the number of Americans applying.

The public has until Dec. 10 to weigh in on the proposal.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.