No Hope For Crab Picker Visas, Crab Houses - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

No Hope For Crab Picker Visas, Crab Houses

Posted: Jun 18, 2018 6:37 PM Updated:

HOOPER'S ISLAND, Md. - Crab houses in Dorchester County expected to hear whether they would get their visas last Friday, but three of those houses say they haven't heard anything since applying.

"It feels empty," Harry Phillips, owner of Russell Hall Seafood, said. "We know we're not going to get our workers. It's going to be a lost year."

It's a different story for G.W. Hall Seafood down the street. Owner Brian Hall says he feels sorry for those left out this season and knows just how valuable the help is.

"I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy," Hall said. "We pay what the feds tell us what we have to pay and we do everything we can do to make it appealing for workers in the United States to come here. I haven't had five workers in 20 years come here."

Both Hall and Phillips say raising the seasonal wages won't do much to appeal to American workers. They also say, on average, an experienced picker makes above minimum wage -- between $12 and $15 an hour. Both owners say the cost of wages, along with everything else to run business, make it hard to compete with imported crab meat.

WBOC spoke with Maryland Congressman Andy Harris, who says he recently met with Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Harris says he's working to get another round of visas released by late July or August.

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