Warner Meets with DHS Secretary Nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Reiterates Need for H-2B Visas to Support Virginia's Seafood Industry
Jan 27 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with President Biden’s nominee for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, ahead of his confirmation vote to discuss the importance of the Commonwealth’s seafood industry and its reliance on H-2B visas.
“During my conversation with Mr. Mayorkas, I stressed the importance of Virginia’s seafood processing industry, which includes many small and family-owned businesses, and their reliance on H-2B visas to hire seasonal workers. As I indicated during the meeting, it is my hope that we find a long-term solution to support these small, family-owned businesses in the Northern Neck,” said Sen. Warner.
Sen. Warner has long advocated for Virginia’s seafood processing industry – a community largely made up of rural, family-owned operations. Last February, Sen. Warner urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release additional H-2B visas needed to support local seafood businesses in Virginia and states like Alaska, Maryland, and North Carolina.
In July, Sen. Warner sent a bicameral, bipartisan letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) highlighting the severe impacts COVID-19 is having on the seafood industry and requesting that USDA consider establishing a short-term purchasing program for shellfish products.As a result of these efforts, USDA recently announced its decision to allow oyster and clam businesses to access funds included within the CARES Act Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, an announcement that Sen. Warner applauded.
In September, he also fired off a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding the urgent need to secure H-2B visas for seasonal seafood workers in Virginia with the oyster harvesting season now in full swing. And in October in the Northern Neck, Sen. Warner participated in a socially-distanced meet and greet to celebrate the kickoff of the oyster harvesting season and to discuss his work in Congress to help Virginia’s family-owned seafood processors keep their operations up and running during the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 health crisis.