Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) were joined by 30 other senators in sending a letter to DHS Secretary John Kelly asking that he conduct an audit of the H-2B visa program to determine how many of the H-2B visas were unused in the first part of the fiscal year. Then they request that any unused visas be made available to employers.

The H-2B visa is a low-skilled, guest worker program that is typically used by employers to fill seasonal and temporary jobs, but these are jobs that many Americans without a college degree rely on to make ends meet.

The current cap for H-2B visas is 66,000 per year, with 33,000 given out in the first part of the fiscal year and the other 33,000 given out in the second half of the year. According to the letter 5,000 H-2B visas were approved but unused in 2015.

“In 2015, after previously announcing that the statutory cap had been reached, [the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency] determined that more than 5,000 unused visas were available. Soon thereafter, the agency began accepting applications from businesses still hoping to hire workers through the program. With that in mind, we respectfully request that your office conduct an immediate audit of the number of unused visas from the first half of the fiscal year and project the likely usage rate for the second half of the fiscal year … As with prior practice, any unused visas should be provided to eligible businesses that have been unable to secure an adequate number of workers due to the cap,” the letter states.

This request comes after the provision that quadrupled H-2B visas in the 2016 omnibus bill was removed in 2017. The provision exempted any H-2B worker who had been approved for a H-2B visa in the previous three years from counting against the visa cap, increasing H-2B workers to around 264,000.

Buzzfeed released an expose in 2015 on the H-2B visa and how it replaces American workers and exploits foreign workers. They released an investigative report last year on the abuses found within the H-2B program.

You can view the full letter to DHS Secretary Kelly here.

Here is a list of the 30 other Senators who signed the letter:

1. John Barrasso (R-WY)
2. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
3. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
4. Richard Burr (R-NC)
5. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
6. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
7. Tom Carper (D-DE)
8. Bob Casey (D-PA)
9. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
10. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
11. Chris Coons (D-DE)
12. Susan Collins (R-ME)
13. John Cornyn (R-TX)
14. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
15. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
16. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
17. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
18. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
19. Angus King (I-ME)
20. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
21. James Lankford (R-OK)
22. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
23. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
24. Patty Murray (D-WA)
25. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
26. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
27. Tim Scott (R-SC)
28. Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
29. Roger Wicker (R-MS)
30. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Low-skilled Americans
H-2B visas

Updated: Mon, Jul 24th 2017 @ 3:23pm EDT