Tightening immigration policies are threatening to lead to a major manpower shortage throughout the horse racing industry.
As Tim Sullivan writes in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the racing industry – from horse farms to racetrack backstretches – are “reliant on foreign labor, primarily from Mexico”, although the government tends to believe that U.S. workers can fill those jobs.
According to the article, the H-2B visa, which is capped at 66,000 annually, is the most common authorization used by foreign nationals in the racing industry. In previous years, returning worker exemptions did not count against that 66,000. However, that exemption expired last September and it wasn't extended. As a result, there are only 33,000 April visas available while over 90,000 applications have been received.
“The cap is going to hit at the end of February,” said immigration attorney Will Velie. “When it does, the employers are going to have a choice between shutting their doors or breaking the law.”
“We can't operate without this labor force,” said trainer Dale Romans. “There's such a hate-mongering about immigrant workforces, but there's a huge difference between illegal immigration and those here on visas doing work Americans don't want to do.”
Read more in the Louisville Courier-Journal
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