Golden, Jackson Call Out Federal Inaction in Response to Canadian Abuse of Logging Visas
WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) and Maine Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) released a joint statement today in response to Congress yet again taking action to reform the H-2A visa program without addressing loopholes that have enabled Canadian truckers to unfairly exploit and take American jobs.
“For years, loggers in northern Maine have presented evidence that Canadian truckers are abusing the H-2A visa system to take log hauling jobs away from American citizens. And for years, Mainers have asked the federal government to address the problem with a simple, straightforward regulatory fix. Rather than tackle the issue and protect American jobs, congressional leaders have looked the other way and federal agencies have played hot potato.
“This is a straightforward issue and federal cabotage law is clear. Canadian drivers cannot do domestic loads, otherwise known as point-to-point deliveries within the United States. Nor should Canadian companies headquartered in Canada be using H-2A visas in the first place. H-2As are intended for foreign agricultural workers who come into the United States for extended periods of time to harvest perishable crops. Trees are not perishable.
“What we're seeing is companies misusing the H-2A program in an effort to circumvent federal law. Canadian truckers are abusing the H-2A program when they make daily commutes into northern Maine to participate in the American domestic logging market, competing directly with Mainers for jobs and depressing wages. H-2A visa cannot be used for the domestic transport of harvested timber. By enforcing federal law and holding companies accountable for misusing the H-2A program, the federal government can protect these jobs.
“This should not be a difficult problem to solve, which is why it’s baffling that both federal agencies and congressional leaders have refused to take any action. Repeated letters to the relevant agencies from both state and federal officeholders have only resulted in those agencies passing the buck. Repeated attempts to legislate a solution in Congress have been blocked by party leaders.
“Again today, the House is passing a bill that makes changes to the H-2A visa program, but does nothing to address abuse by Canadian truckers at our northern border. For that reason, it’s a bill that no responsible representative of northern Maine could support. We will continue to push both the administration and Congress to fix this issue once and for all so that trucking jobs in Aroostook County are protected.” - Congressman Jared Golden & Maine Senate President Troy Jackson
Golden has consistently pushed the Trump administration and his colleagues in Congress to take action on this issue. In addition to proposing an amendment to the Department of Labor funding bill last year, Golden also called on all three relevant agencies to conduct an investigation into allegations of Canadian truckers operating illegally in Maine. Golden also proposed two amendments the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 to exclude logging activities from the definition of "agricultural labor or services" in the bill.
Jackson has repeatedly sought action on both the state and federal level to end this unlawful practice and hold violators accountable. He even brought Gov. Paul LePage up to Fort Kent to hear directly from the affected truckers in 2017. In the Maine Legislature, Jackson has introduced several pieces of legislation to protect Maine trucking jobs and penalize offending companies for breaking the law. In addition, he has written to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State and the Department of Labor. This past summer, he filed a complaint against the Department of Labor for failing to enforce federal cabotage laws.