US provides visas to up to 15,000 temporary workers

WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. government is allowing 15,000 additional visas for temporary seasonal workers to help American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm because of a shortage of such labor, the Department of Homeland Security said on Monday.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly found after consulting with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta that there were not enough qualified and willing American workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural work, the department said in a statement.

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"As a demonstration of the administration's commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap," Kelly said in a statement.

Temporary workers at seasonal resorts as well as in landscaping, seafood harvesting and processing are among those eligible, the government said.

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Congress gave Kelly authority to authorize additional visas earlier this year and he said in May he planned to grant at least some additional visas.

Many seasonal businesses and members of Congress have pleaded with Kelly to issue the visas, citing an urgent need for workers.

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that favors reduced immigration levels, said in a statement the decision "threatens to reverse the trend of reports emerging around the country of employers working harder and raising pay to successfully recruit more unemployed Americans for lower-skilled jobs."

"This is yet another example of the administration and Congress failing to keep the Trump campaign promise of putting American workers first," he said.

DHS said the government has created a new tip line to report any abuse of the visas or employer violations. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu and David Shepardson in Washington; additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; editing by David Gregorio and G Crosse)

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