In a letter to the director of the National Economic Council and a senior advisor to the president on Wednesday, the National Association of State Foresters and dozens of other forestry associations requested that H-2B non-immigrant laborers (who perform essential forestry-related work) be excluded from any presidential proclamations or orders restricting immigrant or non-immigrant labor entry into the U.S.
Public and private forestlands rely heavily on non-immigrant labor through the H-2B visa program to perform essential services that sustain the health and viability of our nation’s forests. This work includes tree planting, seed collection used to produce the next generation of tree seedlings, herbicide application, fire suppression and forest fuel reduction that is critical to reducing the risk of fire, and the removal of vegetation that interferes with the electrical power grid.
…Every year more than 1.6 billion trees are planted on over 2.6 million acres of public and private forestlands across the United States. Forestry workers temporarily in the U.S. on H-2B visas perform most of the tree planting on public and private forestlands, which includes Federal lands administered by the United States Forest Service.
…The work performed by H-2B forestry workers has a broad national interest, as the public needs forests to be protected from wildfire and replanted following a timber harvest or catastrophic events such as hurricanes, insect and disease infestations or wildfire. As the wildfire season is projected to be above normal in the western U.S., the non-immigrant H-2B workforce will be called upon for fire suppression and forest renewal.
Read the letter in full by clicking the link below.
In a June 29 follow-up letter to Secretaries Pompeo, Scalia and Wolf, the signatories wrote to express their concern regarding the unintended impacts of President Trump’s Proclamation suspending the entry of H-2B visa guest workers until December 31, 2020. The full text of that letter is also linked below.