On January 25, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order aimed at combating the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, the new order also has a major impact on gamebird producers who rely on H2A workers. The aspect of the order that affects NAGA members reads as follows:

“The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of noncitizens who were physically present within the Republic of South Africa during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, is hereby suspended…”

The order also applies to travel from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brazil. Over the years many gamebird producers have increasingly been able to secure labor from South Africa. With hatching season soon upon us, the timing of this announcement is really detrimental. However, there may be a possibility of an exception that would solve this problem. The order explains that the suspensions in Section 1 of this proclamation shall not apply to “any noncitizen whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.”

This language provides for a potential exemption for H2A workers from South Africa. The key to obtaining such an exemption will be to secure assistance from members of Congress to help us convince the Homeland Security Department or the State Department that it is in the national interest to help farms maintain their labor force. We have already begun to work with several U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives toward this end.

The truth is, however, that we need more help. If your farm uses H2A workers from South Africa, please email Rob Sexton at rob@northamericangamebird.com. He will be in touch with you to coordinate our efforts to provide an exemption for South African workers.