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Felinis
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« on: May 10, 2005, 02:17:41 PM »

from the BALTIMORE SUN:

As crab season approaches, Shore businesses left in limbo
Visa shortage prevents Mexican workers' entry

By Chris Guy and Rona Kobell
Sun Staff

Originally published April 2, 2005

HOOPER'S ISLAND - In the seasonal rhythm of life on this slice of land dangling alongside the Chesapeake Bay, the first days of the commercial crab season are marked by anticipation.

No one will be catching any crabs until temperatures rise a bit, but the crab pots are ready - repaired, painted and neatly stacked. The decks of low-slung work boats are scrubbed. Diesel engines are fine-tuned. At the crab processing houses, industrial-sized crab steamers and stainless steel picking tables are gleaming.
     
 
But this year, despite all of the preparation, there is worry that the island's
seafood industry is facing economic disaster. Hundreds of workers from Mexico
would normally be on their way to jobs here and across Maryland's Eastern Shore
to pry fluffy white meat from the crabs and pack it for shipping to markets near and far.
The workers are still in Mexico, however, because they cannot get visas from the U.S. government.

Unless Congress passes emergency legislation to let the workers in, industry officials say, most of the Shore's processing houses will be forced to shut down -
a move that would cut off much of the market for local watermen and hurt the economies of small bay communities.

"It's a rough business if you're not sure if you'll even be in business," said Robin Hall, 52, whose family runs a processing plant here. "There's just so many decisions we can't make right now. Normally, we'd be ordering about $15,000 worth of crab meat cans, but we aren't sure. And it has a domino effect right through little towns like this one."

Watermen such as Curtis Phillips and Carl Shockley Jr. are wondering whether it makes
sense to start dropping crab pots into the bay, not knowing whether processors will
have pickers to handle their catch. Outfitting their boats for the season costs $3,000 to $5,000.

"Desperate is the right word for us now," said Phillips, 48.
"We can get by for a while, but we're so intertwined I think it's likely the whole industry
could collapse. We cuss and fuss with the processors about prices, but the truth is you can't survive without a picking house."

To enter the United States, the Mexican workers need a temporary visa from a program known for its citation in the law, H2B. But hundreds of workers who have jobs waiting in Maryland's seafood industry can't get visas this year. Businesses in other parts of the country used up the nation's quota of 66,000 workers before the plants here were able to apply. Only four of 25 Maryland processors that sought such workers are getting them.

The H2B program is not universally popular - critics say cheap foreign labor keeps American wages low - and legislation to address the pending crisis was stalled in Congress when it broke for Easter recess. Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is pushing a bill that would let foreign workers who held jobs in the past return this year and next, giving Congress time to craft a more comprehensive immigration bill.

Mikulski said she plans a new approach when Congress returns Monday.
She hopes to attach her proposal to a supplemental budget bill for Iraq, scheduled to be the first measure taken up. The legislation would need House and Senate approval as well as President Bush's signature.

Seafood businesses from Alaska to Louisiana are in the same boat as Maryland -
unable to get workers and unsure whether they will open. The H2B woes could ripple out to restaurants, importers, drivers, fish farmers, even the marinas that pump gas into the skiffs.

In waterfront communities such as Hooper's Island, watermen sell crabs to processors,
wholesalers, restaurants and other customers during the early months of the season.
But in the fall, when Maryland crabs are most plentiful, they count on selling most of their catch to processors who steam and pick the meat for canning to supply customers over the winter.

John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute,
calls the seafood processors the linchpin in a chain of crucial links bringing seafood from the water to the table.

"This isn't a problem for just a few processors on the Eastern Shore,"
he said. "Ultimately, it will be a problem for the consumer, who won't be able to buy good Maryland crab."

Since the H2B program began in 1990, Maryland's plants have relied on Mexicans to
fill the picking jobs that they say American workers aren't willing to take. On Hooper's,
residents say the last local crab picker, a native islander named Violet Travers, died this year at 83.

Pat Simmons runs a crab plant with her husband, a waterman who catches most of the crabs they steam and can. They are among the lucky few whose request for the Mexican workers was granted. Twelve workers are scheduled to cross the border by April 15, then travel by bus for three days to Hooper's Island.

Already working on the island is 28-year-old Abel Albino Hilario, who arrived in early March to start his fifth year working for the Simmons family. With a wife and 2-year-old daughter back home in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, he says he needs to make the yearly trip to the United States to support his family.

"I make enough money to send $200 a week to my wife," said Hilario, who speaks limited English. "At home I worked picking oranges or coffee and I would make 70 pesos [about $4] a day."

The H2B program has its critics in Congress and in the immigrant and labor communities. Some, like research analyst Ron Nicosia of the Service Employees International Union, say the U.S. Department of Labor is not vigilant enough about making sure companies who are granted foreign workers have done all they can to hire Americans.

Others worry about treatment of the H2B workers. Because their visas are tied to the job, they may be less likely to complain about problems with housing or wages.

"The more attractive working conditions and wages are, the more likely it is in a
free market that you're going to get more willing workers," said Roger Rosenthal,
executive director of the Migrant Legal Action Project, a national advocacy group for seasonal workers.

Tiny Hooper's Island is far removed from the immigration debate. Here, just about everyone is wondering how they will survive without the 230 or so Latin-American workers that would typically be here from mid-April through fall.

Frank King owns the neighborhood grocery, which supplies everything from milk to hardware and movie rentals for customers who live 25 miles from chain groceries in Cambridge. He doesn't want to think about what business will be like if the workers can't come.

"It would hurt me bad," said King, 45. "I've been worrying about it for most of a year."

Ronnie and Betty Ann Jones already know how much it will hurt. Last year,
the couple did not get their H2B workers because their application was received late.

After trying without success to attract American workers through job fairs and help-wanted ads, they shuttered their 20-year-old business, "3 Ann's Seafood," for the season. The plant's brand-new crab cans sat empty. The couple struggled, blowing through half their savings to make ends meet.

Betty Ann, who is 64, signed up for Social Security. If the plant fails to get workers again this year, she said, "we'll be just wiped out." And yet, she said, they're luckier than most - they had savings, and they had already paid off their business loans.

Most of the island processors are younger and won't be able to weather that kind of storm.

"They have children in school, new trucks, homes to pay for - and they're owing on their businesses," she said. "As the Lord would have it, we had ours paid for. If we hadn't, we could have lost everything."


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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2005, 02:30:23 PM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/01/AR2005050100829.html
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2005, 02:34:19 PM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/03/AR2005050301459.html

$82 Billion Bill Advances With War Funds, Add-Ons

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 4, 2005; Page A04

House and Senate negotiators agreed yesterday to an emergency spending bill to fund Iraq and Afghanistan war costs,
provide international food aid and tsunami relief, and curtail illegal immigration while expanding a popular
guest-worker visa program.

....

The House and Senate each slipped in immigration provisions that reflect a growing sense of
urgency about the surge in illegal workers. House Republicans secured the tighter asylum and driver's license rules they had originally sought in an intelligence bill last year, while Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) won a higher cap on seasonal guest workers, an issue she took up in response to labor shortages in the Chesapeake Bay crabbing industry.
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2005, 03:06:28 PM »

from the BALTIMORE SUN:

As crab season approaches, Shore businesses left in limbo
Visa shortage prevents Mexican workers' entry

By Chris Guy and Rona Kobell
Sun Staff

Originally published April 2, 2005



Since the H2B program began in 1990, Maryland's plants have relied on Mexicans to
fill the picking jobs that they say American workers aren't willing to take.




Used to be a time when Americans weren't afraid of this kind of work! Sad
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2005, 08:10:49 PM »

Well. I don't have an issue with the work program, most work hard and are good workers as long as they start throwing the illegals out and I don't care who the illegals are. We are paying big time for them with our tax money, welfare, medical, housing, etc Huh. Register them and they should have to learn English before they come here so they can understand our laws. Most of our ancestors had to do it. I know mine did. I just heard today 27% of the criminals in all our jails are of foreign origion. That's a pretty high percentage.  Maybe that's why they were slow to move, enough coming in without the papers and NO ONE wants to do anything about it on either side of OUR Govt. . I hear you Slayer, I don't know what happened with our kids doing a little help also. Worked 13 hour day weekends when I was 10+ years old helping out in a beer dist. lugging cases for a $1 an hour and all summer long. Then again we were poor so I worked to get some spending money and buy a few things, like sneakers. Now the kids are too busy with video games ,cell phones, drugs and getting pregnant. People don't want to get thier hands dirty anymore. They could let 14 years olds work with working papers? It would teach them a little responsibility, that would help out and maybe keep some kids out of trouble, but then again our laws won't even let us decipline them right. ???It really makes you appreciate the sweat and a$$ whoopings we put up with when we were young. Wink Then again we can't even hang our [dang] flag up anymore. furious3 But what the [Sam Hill] am I thinking, you have to get the kids to school first and keep them there Huh
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2005, 12:12:06 PM »

Amen Joe!
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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2005, 11:13:14 PM »

I agree, Dr. Joe....AMEN to your post!!  I would love for my kids to work in a crab picking place...they would understand what HARD work is all about....I don't understand the shortage of workers...I never see any ads in any of the papers...they don't even TRY to lure Americans into the field...they just depend on foreigners. 

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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2005, 08:01:10 PM »

i see no problem at all with immigrants,after all the only people who werent immigrants to this country where the indians.its not as if immigrants are taking the jobs of americans,its basically immigrants taking jobs that americans dont want either because of very low pay or the job is gross.everyone deserves a chance to work here.after all immigrants illegal or not help the economy.If we kicked them out put up electric fences everywhere,you will notice that every single thing you buy would almost triple in price over night.I dont know about you but if bread jumped to 8 dollars a package iwould be pissed.not to mention a house,a deck a garage or any kind of addition would be very expensive,not to mention the our country is lazy and filling those job positions would be hard.besides if you worry about the numbers trying to immigrate,you can keep them down by giving them jobs here so they can take thier money back to thier country and build up thier economys where they could give jobs and find the usa less desirable because they can find what they want there due to the economy getting bigger.good luck on getting kids these days to work at a processing plant.most parents today spoil thier kids rotten and never discipline thier kids when they do wrong.until that happens i wouldn't expect a back-talking kid to take a job ,when they can ride off thier parents money and expect to be handed everything they need.whether its the 150 pair of shoes with a name on it,or a brand new car when they turn 16.if only i was a kid these days  Grin
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2005, 11:29:55 PM »

The problem isn't immigrants, it's illegals. And if they are registered in work programs that is perfectly fine but they should be taxed like everyone else. Then they can send what ever they want back to their native countries and choose to go back there if they don't like the freedoms afforded them in this country, or can't abide by our laws and learn our languge. Our immigrant relatives worked hard to build this country but adapted and abided by its laws and learned the language so they could communicate with everyone. You go to any country in Europe\Asia, at the airports, signs, directions, any main functional business protocol is written or spoken in the native language of that country. No concessions there but they want to come here and complain about our laws and rights. You have any idea of the expense it's costing our tax payers to have bilingual signs, books, school teachings, municipalities, etc. And because parents can't keep there kids in school, teach them responsibility,accountability, that's an excuse to let anyone walk across our borders unchecked. Yes many of them are good hard workers and take the jobs our kids are too lazy to work for, but there are many of them bringing in diseases, new strains of old viruses that can't be cured right away and many more are committing crimes becuase they don't understand the laws and can't speak or read the language. And with all the free welfare and medical they get you are paying for it big time and don't even realize it. Well maybe you are not. And then there is the other factor that I guess if you didn't see the people jumping out of the burning towers or lost personnel friends you don't feel there is a threat of you being attacked so you have nothing to worry about. And we have Americans complaining about the rights and defending the actions of these murderers, obviously they didn't lose a friend. It seems if you were not a part of it or directly affected by it you forgot it happened. Well the next time the casualties will be much higher and if unchecked it will happen. If we are lucky it will be Hollywood then maybe more people will realize America was attacked not New York City.  furious3 And then people like yourself will wonder how in the [Sam Hill] we let this happened Shocked I'll pay the $8 for the loaf of bread. It's not just about people mowing your lawn or working your fields or whatever else you are hiring them for. Immigrants coming to this country is fine as long as they wait on the lines and go through the processes of being checked like our forefathers had to do CheesyWink Cool Cool Oh and if the message wasn't clear I lost friends in that attack and my coworkers watched the people jump from the buildings before the towers crumbled. It's not television.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2005, 11:33:58 PM by Dr. Joe Crabs » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2005, 05:34:32 AM »

A   BIG    BIG   AMEN   !!!!!
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2005, 09:43:13 AM »

considering illegals cant get free welfare because they dont have social security id's i dont see exactly how they are costing us.in order to apply for health care,welfare,or any kind of goverment service you need to have a social security number and other id's..As far as diseases go,we bring alot more in legally than we do from such sources as illegal immigrants.food,coming in cargo that goes unchecked,yes we dont check cargo but our country is so backwards that we strip-search people in airports.As far as an attack on our country,it wasn't from illegals it was from legal immigrants on visa's.there goes your arguement there.
im not going to drag this out because its pointless,and our goverment can't do anything right...we can only hope to keep commercial crabberman employed by getting people into office who will press to get visa's to these people so they can start processing foods.
Or we can sit around while the current congress sits around ready to sign a blank piece of paper at will under the false premise of security.
i hear that kids these days need a certain amount of community service to graduate high school,so as living in this state and the bay is part of the community...well theres an answer.off to the processing plants they go.
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2005, 10:19:17 AM »

Your right, we won't agree on this topic because your interests are self serving and don't warrant comment. We agree on registered work programs, that solves your problem and mine and the main issue of this topic. This board is not meant for political discussions, and unfortunately this topic crossed both boundries. Time to drop it and get back to crabbing.Good luck with your help. Cool Cool
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2005, 10:19:26 AM »

Well somebody has to be footing the bills when they need medical attention and don't have the money...........
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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2005, 10:25:12 AM »

Hey crabologist they are not allowed to ask or report so they get serviced. But I am done with this.
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« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2005, 10:34:23 AM »

Totally agree.......................Let's go CRABBIN"
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« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2005, 08:17:05 PM »

sry for my 2 cents but in regards to the statement of not able to obtain welfare without a ss# i farm an orchard part time and work with mexicans that forge and then share ss#'s to get thru the red tape of paying taxes and remain illeagal and the government overlooks the problem because the farmers cant get people to work their farms that truely live here wich is a shame they think its below them but the money the pickers make is really decent money. its truely our lazy society thinking(im too good to pick fruit,ill just keep complaining i cant find work)
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