Friday, December 11, 2009

Feds Tighten Guest Worker Departures

Immigration News from Frontera NorteSur (FNS)
December 11, 2009

In a pilot project, the Department of Homeland Security’s US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started requiring foreign guest workers to leave behind identifying information at two Arizona ports of entry. Launched December 8, the new exit system applies to holders of H-2A and H-2B visas.

According to a CBP press release, the pilot program kicked off this week at the San Luis and Douglas ports of entry bordering the Mexican state of Sonora. Under the federal requirements, departing guest workers will stop at a kiosk to scan their visas and fingerprints and return their 1-94 arrival/departure forms. Instructions for completing the process will be in both Spanish and English.

“The goal is to ensure that temporary workers comply with the requirement to leave the country when their work authorization expires,” the CBP stated. “The program will also help secure US borders more effectively and streamline existing guest worker programs.”

As of this week, any foreign guest worker in the H-2A and H-2B programs and admitted entry to the US at San Luis or Douglas will also have to leave the country at the same location.

The Arizona pilot program came as the CBP reported that more than 205,000 H-2A and more than 58,000 H-2B visa admissions were granted during Fiscal Year 2009. Compared to earlier statistics cited in a newsletter published at the University of California at Davis, H-2A admissions of temporary agricultural workers were up significantly in 2009.

According to UC Davis’ Rural Migration News, in Fiscal Year 2008 there were 173,100 H-2A admissions, mostly of Mexican nationals. In FY 2007, 87,300 H-2A admissions were registered, while 46,400 were counted for FY 2006.

On the other hand, H-2B visas, which are granted to workers in fields such as gardening, landscaping and tree planting, experienced a drop off in 2009. Rural Migration News earlier reported 110,000 H-2B visa admissions in FY 2008 and 155,000 in FY 2007.

Sources: US Customs and Border Protection, December 10, 2009. PressRelease.
Rural Migration News, April 2009.

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University Las Cruces,New Mexico
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