Politics

Trump-Voting Maryland Crabber Is Sad Because He Can’t Find Workers, ‘We Can’t Operate The Way We’re Going’

Many who supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election have come to regret their decision, as the president’s policies are wreaking havoc on their businesses.

In Hoopers Island, Maryland, residents voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. The town’s economy is supported by the crabbing industry, which has been a mainstay in the region for some time now. Hoopers Island has maintained its crabbing industry for decades using the federal seasonal worker program.

Workers from over the border are granted H-2B visas that allow them to work for a season in the United States. The workers then return to their home countries. There is no path to citizenship via the H-2B visas.

In Hoopers Island, the crabbing industry relies on foreign workers — mostly women from Mexico — who  pick crab meat for the season.

People in Hoopers Island might have supported candidate Trump’s promise to crack down on illegal immigration, but what they did not count on was his dramatic attack on legal immigration. The Trump administration has capped H-2B visas and ended the first-come, first-served method in favor of a lottery system that gives out a small number of visas.

This has devastated Hooper Island’s crabbing industry. The crabbing community was unable to bring in 40 percent of the workers they needed for the season.

Harry Phillips, who owns Hall Seafood, explained, “We can’t operate the way we’re going. I’ve had to let truck drivers go. I don’t need truck drivers if I don’t have the product. It’s going to affect us to the point where we may have to totally close.”

He continued saying, “(President Trump’s) vow was to create American jobs, but this is not creating American jobs.”

The damage is not limited to just the crab fishermen — it extends to all the businesses that support crabbing. Capt. Larry “Boo” Powley catches bait for crab. He is a fifth-generation fisherman. He said:

“The more demand that there is for bait, the better I do. Right now, there’s no demand because they can’t handle the crabs because they have no pickers. And it’s really hurting us right now.” He continued, “How would you like to be in business for 30 years and they tell you, ‘Well, we’re going to pick out of a hat if you’re going to run your business or not?’ How do people stay in business? Does Washington not get it? You’ve got to have workers.”

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Nicole James
meet the author

Nicole James is a lifelong Democrat and political activist who first cut her teeth as a teenager volunteering for Mike Dukakis’ presidential campaign. She has worked and volunteered for John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, HFA (Hillary For America) and Organizing For Action. She’s passionate about liberal and progressive causes, and considers President Obama her most favorite president ever. She holds her Bachelor’s from Boston College and her Master’s from Columbia University, both in Economics. When not working as a writer, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her three teenagers.

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