According to the American Horse Council (AHC), President Trump’s recent executive actions could impact segments of the horse industry reliant on foreign workers. Equine businesses unable to fill vacancies with local, American workers can utilize Federal temporary worker programs such as H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers and H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultiral Workers to fill vacancies. See https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-2a-temporary-agricultural-workers and hsomettps://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-2b-temporary-non-agricultural-workers.
In Oklahoma, horse breeding is considered an agricultural business. Because of that designation, horse breeders can take advantage of the H-2A temporary worker program that currently has no cap on the number of visas issued every fiscal year. However, those in the horse industry that are not breeders, ie. trainers and race or show industry businesses, must rely on the H-2B temporary worker program which issues a limited number of visas every fiscal year. Due to the limited number of H-2B temporary visas issued, some in the horse business may look to undocumented workers to fill vacancies. The H-2B cap is 66,000 temporary visas issued for each fiscal year, and according to the AHC that cap has already been met for 2017.
The AHC cautions that equine businesses should expect an increase in worksite enforcement and that business owners should make sure required paperwork is in order. Those in the Oklahoma horse racing industry or horse show industry stand to be impacted to a greater extent by the executive immigration actions.
Contact Oklahoma Senators and Congressman to let each know how important the horse industry is the Oklahoma and that the executuve actions on immigration could have a negative impact on the horse industry in Oklahoma unless the cap on H-2B Non-Agricultural Temporary Workers is increased.