Thursday, 28 March 2019 16:14

Horse Trainer Denied H-2B Visas for the 2019 Racing Season

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Legendary horse trainer Todd Pletcher was denied all 50 work visa applications that were intended for seasonal workers for this upcoming 2019 racing season by the federal government.

Fletcher has been training horses who have competed at the Saratoga stakes for 20 years. For the past two decades, he has applied for the H-2B visas to bring in hired help South America to tend to the horses.

H-2B visas pertain to temporary or seasonal workers entering the U.S for a specific task and season – such as the eight weeks stretch of races in Spa City. According to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services web site, the federal cap on H-2B visas is 66,000 per fiscal year. It is shocking to many that Pletcher was denied approval.

“The Trump Administration is wholly responsible for this development,” stated Congressman Paul Tonko of New York’s 20th Congressional District. “In February, Congress passed a fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill that was signed into law by President Trump, which included language giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) discretion and authority to release additional H2B visas this year. Similar authority was provided in FY 2018 and 2017, and DHS used its authority to make an additional 15,000 H-2B visas available each of those years.”

Though immigration reform is a national discussion, Pletcher’s denial of visa’s is an example of how close to home these issues are. Having racehorses that are fed, tended and ready to perform at their best are a link in the chain that is Saratoga’s racing culture.

“This shows how our broken immigration system is being made worse, not better, by the bizarre policies of this Administration. My office has reached out to DHS about this issue and has not received a response,” said Tonko. “In the absence of responsible action by DHS, I continue to call for smart, comprehensive immigration reform that supports a strong border and a strong economy at the same time. Doing nothing, or worse, continuing these policies, is damaging our local economy by hampering preparations for racing season in Saratoga and impacting countless others throughout our region, state and nation.”

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