Downhill Racing: Were Ski Visas Just a Snow Job After All?
Here’sa cool little story that didn’t get any play during the Democratic andRepublican conventions that tirelessly trumpeted the benefits of immigration:
Coloradoski resorts are hiring young Americansfor thousands of seasonal-work positions this winter.
After President Donald Trump’s June 22 executive order paused foreign-worker visas in response to the COVID-19 siege, ski resorts worried they would be unable to lure workers to their remote and often-pricey mountain communities, according to the Colorado Sun.
“Tryingto fill positions without an international pool of applicants is a littleconcerning, but we think we can replace them domestically,” said Jim Laing,head of human resources for Aspen Skiing Co. “Our applications from collegekids are up pretty significantly over prior years. We are targeting college-ageapplicants, but they seem to be targeting us as well.”
TheSun reported that Colorado resorts had become dependent on a steady stream ofJ-1 exchange visa workers from South America, Australia and New Zealand tostaff ski schools, hotels and mountain operations. The J-1 ExchangeVisitor Program annually accepted 300,000 workers from 200 countries, including11,1331 in Colorado.
“We’vefound interest among [U.S.] students who have more flexibility now due to[COVID-driven] online learning or deferring college attendance for a year. Andour employees from prior seasons are also showing enthusiasm to return,” saidVail Resorts spokesman Ryan Huff.
Still,it’s not all fresh powder on the all-American slopes.
Several ski resorts have challenged Trump’s order in court, claiming they need ongoing access to foreign labor. The Lakewood, Colo.-based National Ski Areas Association told the Fort Morgan Times that operators routinely import ski instructors via H-2B visas, and they need them to keep coming.