When Ruben Chavez's landscaping company needed extra manpower this summer to lay patio and driveway pavers, it applied to hire temporary foreign workers through the government's controversial H-2B visa program.
But the annual cap for such visas was already reached and the application was denied. Chavez estimates his company, based in North Riverside, Illinois, in the western suburbs, missed $100,000 in potential contracts as a result.
Now Chavez has another shot. Using powers granted it by Congress, the Department of Homeland Security announced last week that it would issue an additional 15,000 H-2B visas for jobs starting before the end of September, on top of the 66,000 permitted annually by law, to employers that would suffer "irreparable harm" without the seasonal help.
Many employers that rely on extra workers for their busy summer months say the move comes too late to make a difference. But Chavez, who was offering $15.30 an hour for six paver layers to work June through November, says he plans to apply for the new batch to try to salvage what's left of the season.
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