The Department of Homeland Security announced at 3:46 pm today that it will allow various U.S. employers 15,000 additional H-2B workers this summer; they will do unskilled, non-agricultural seasonal work. Most work in landscaping or forestry; agricultural workers come in on the H-2A visa.
The 15,000 will be in addition to the 66,000 permits in this program that have already been issued in keeping with the long-standing statutory ceiling.
The press release, that I saw because I am on a DHS mailing list, could not be found on the internet when I searched for it. It may appear shortly.
It is a long standing and non-commendable tradition to issue press releases dealing with unpopular actions by the government as late as possible on Friday afternoon, to secure the least coverage in the media. (Saturday newspapers are the least read of the week, though this may be of diminishing importance.)
According to the release: "Secretary Nielsen made this decision after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress, and business owners."
Note the omission of any mention of organized labor or immigration policy groups.
Congress had, in a recent decision, failed to raise the ceiling for these workers, but gave the assignment of fixing a larger number than the usual 66,000 to the DHS secretary.
Secretary Nielsen complained about Congress handing her the decision, saying: "We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program." Congress did this last year as well, leading to what was then described as a "one-time" increase in visas.