Immigration Issues: Perceptions of Golf Course Superintendents
Maloney, Thomas R.; Bills, Nelson L.
Between the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2008, 71 golf course superintendents responded to a survey related to their immigrant employees and immigration policy issues. The objective was to determine golf course superintendents’ concerns and perspectives regarding labor availability, immigration policy and the immigrant workforce. The survey was completed by golf course superintendents who manage businesses that currently employ Hispanic workers. This was done intentionally to identify concerns and attitudes of supervisors who already rely on Hispanic workers. The survey provides a preliminary indication that golf course superintendents who currently employ Hispanic workers tend to have a high percentage of Hispanic workers on their staff. On average, survey participants reported that 72% of their workforce at the peak of the season was Hispanic. More than 50% of those surveyed indicated that at least 80% of their workforce, at the peak of the season, was comprised of Hispanic immigrants. Issues relating to immigrant workers and immigration policy are important to the golf course superintendents surveyed. Nearly 75% are concerned, quite concerned or very concerned about accessing adequate labor supplies over the next three years. More than 80% are concerned, quite concerned or very concerned about immigration issues as they relate to the golf course management profession. Survey participants also reported on the perceived importance of specific immigration, reform options. Rated most important was comprehensive immigration reform followed by achieving legal status or citizenship for immigrant workers and an increase in the number of H-2B visas allowed. The H-2B program offers a source of authorized, seasonal immigrant workers but only 13% of those surveyed had H-2B workers. Others expressed an interest in the program. Golf course superintendents acknowledged the importance of the H-2B program and commented on several needed improvements. They wanted to see the program streamlined, made easier to use and made less expensive. They also wanted to see an increase in the annual cap on the number of H-2B workers allowed into the program. In response to an open ended question, golf course superintendents offered their opinions regarding a solution to immigration issues facing their profession. Most of the superintendents surveyed want to have government programs in place that will allow them to hire legally authorized immigrant workers.