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Rounds to Administration: Act Quickly To Protect South Dakota Tourism and Construction Industries

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today wrote a letter to Department of Labor (DOL) encouraging the agency to act quickly to find a long-term solution for issuing temporary, seasonal employment visas (H-2B) that are critical for a number of industries in South Dakota. Earlier this month, DOL stopped processing H-2B visas following an injunction by a federal court. Today, a judge granted stay that would allow DOL to continue issuing H-2B visas while a long-term solution is established.

“I’m pleased the Administration finally took the steps necessary to get this important program moving again,” said Rounds. “South Dakota tourism and construction industries rely on this temporary work program to fully operate. Now, it’s imperative DOL works quickly to find a long-term solution so that our businesses have both the certainty and labor force they need to be successful.”

The motion to stay runs until April 15, 2015. Last week, DOL and the Department of Homeland Security announced on they intend to issue an interim final rule by April 30th, 2015. This could leave a two-week gap between the stay and the final interim ruling in which H-2B visas may not be issued.

Text of the letter can be found below:

                                                                           March 17, 2015

The Honorable Thomas Perez
Secretary of Labor
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room S-2018
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Perez:

When the Northern District Court of Florida vacated the Department of Labor’s H-2B regulations on March 4, 2015, in Perez v. Perez, No. 3:14-cv-682, this caused great concern and adverse consequences for several businesses in our States.  While the District Court today has stayed this action and allowed visa applications to be processed, it is critical that the ramifications of this court decision be addressed as soon as possible and that the Department find a definitive solution to this problem.

Seasonal industries make staffing and capital expenditure decisions months in advance.  Without certainty, they cannot make these critical decisions.  Due to the Federal District Court’s ruling that the Department of Labor’s H-2B rules are not compliant, seasonal businesses are left without a clear path forward through some of the most important months of the year.  We urge you to act as expeditiously as you can to solve this problem, by the end of the stay.

While we realize that the Department of Labor overstepped its bounds in issuing these regulations, we believe that something must be done to remedy the problem that has arisen as a result.  We understand that in response to some of our colleagues that the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security are working to issue a joint Interim Final Rule and do so by April 30, 2015.  We urge you to act sooner by April 15th, the end of this stay.  Businesses cannot wait these extra weeks until your Department acts.