Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

April 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions

By Chandler Garland

In mid-March, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) announced the creation of an advocacy coalition to protect seasonal lifeguard staffing for commercial pools across the nation. The concern is that recent changes in the administration and its impending restrictions on both temporary and long-term immigration, will take action against the J-1 Visa Summer Work Travel Program. Much of the staffing for commercial pools comes from these J-1 Visa student workers.

"The issue really boils down to the gaps in the summer work period," explained Carl Chidlow, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist who has been successful for APSP and the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program in the past. "This is not about taking American jobs and giving them to foreigners. It's about getting pools ready before Memorial Day and properly closing them after Labor Day. And the facts are that most high school and college kids don't get out of classes until a few days before Memorial Day and go back to campus well before Labor Day," Chidlow said.

On average, American students in both high school and universities begin their school year well before Labor Day and end nearly a month after Memorial Day. For pools, this means that the bulk of their usual workforce is unavailable at key times in the industry's annual schedule.

The J-1 Summer Work Travel Program is for college and university students enrolled full-time and pursuing studies at post-secondary accredited academic institutions located outside the United States to come to the United States for temporary work and travel opportunities. These students are required to be fluent in English, actively perusing a degree at an accredited university or post-secondary institution outside the United States, and been preplaced for the job they will need the visa for.

"One issue that will need to be addressed is when a visa holder overstays," said APSP President and CEO Rich Gottwald. "As an industry, we are prepared to support tightening that up and have a strategy that will support businesses and their ability to operate swimming pools for the public's enjoyment this summer."

The APSP J-1 Coalition will move to protect the J-1 visa by working with the State Department of Virginia, other government agencies, and members of congress to lobby for their members and for recreational swimmers across the nation.

"We are already in contact with The Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy," Chidlow said. "We are optimistic because the SBA is already looking at the regulatory burden and cost of actions against the J-1 Visa Program."

Participating APSP member companies include: Sunset Pool Inc; Premier Aquatics; Winkler Pool Management; APSP Mid-Atlantic Chapter; National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF); Douglas Aquatics; High Sierra Pools Inc; Aquasafe Pool Management; Lacks Beach Service; Sweetwater Pool; Titan Pool Services; Anchor Aquatics; Millennium Pool Service; Sears Pool Management; and United Pool Management. Other companies interested in this issue can participate by contacting APSP Director of Government Relations Jennifer Hatfield.

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