With only five months remaining in the fiscal year, Congress finally enacted the FY 2017 spending bill, signed into law on May 5, 2017. Not included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 were funds for building new sections of “the Wall” on our border with Mexico.
However, the bill did include many immigration provisions, including an additional $430 million for increased immigration detention capacity and removal expenses, despite monthly border apprehension rates being at their lowest level in over six years.
Of relevance in Maine, the appropriations bill also included language allowing the government to increase the cap on the number of available H-2B seasonal non-agricultural visas that are used by many of Maine’s seasonal businesses in the hospitality/tourism sector, potentially from the existing 66,000 per year to over 154,000. Unfortunately this fix is coming too late to supply the workers needed for the start of Maine’s 2017 summer tourist season. More details on the H-2B provisions are here.