Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo says House and Senate conferees have reached a consensus on a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 that would help resolve Guam’s H-2B visa crisis. Bordallo, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee, is a member of the Conference Committee.
The provision, reconciled from the differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA—extends Guam’s exemption from the national H-2B visa cap until 2023 and would allow up to 4,000 H-2B visas per year to be approved for Guam. The provision further provides clear flexibility for the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to approve H-2B visas for prime contractor or subcontractor services or labor required for construction, repair, renovation, or facility services directly connected to, or associated with, the Marine realignment.
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo has been loudly protesting the nearly 100 percent rejection of foreign worker visas by Washington, saying that it will stop construction needed for the Guam military buildup. He just had a brief face-to-face meeting with President Trump in Hawaii, who he said told his chief of staff to get to work on resolving the impasse.
The conference agreement must be approved by the full House and Senate before it is presented to Trump for enactment.
“USCIS’s nearly 100 percent denial of H-2B visa applications for Guam has strained our economy and negatively impacted our ability to meet labor demands. I have worked hard to provide a solution through Congress to resolve this challenge. The provision that I authored and was passed in the House version would have provided relief to meet construction needs both inside and outside of the gate as well as needed relief for healthcare workers. I fought hard for the full inclusion of the House provision during conference negotiations. At my urging, the Conference Committee adopted a compromise provision that provides relief for Guam’s construction industry. While this is not a full solution for all business sectors, it does provide some relief to meet construction demands inside and outside the gate. I am committed to continue working for a broader solution to our workforce needs, especially in addressing the challenges impacting our healthcare industry, which will be further strained by increases in personnel related to the Marine realignment.
“Furthermore," said Bordallo, "I am hopeful the Trump Administration will work with me on this broader solution and fulfill President Trump’s personal commitment to Governor Calvo this past weekend to resolve Guam’s non-defense H-2B visa shortages. This is a priority for me, Governor Calvo, and the Legislature, and we are committed to continuing our “One Guam” effort to resolve this crisis.”