Without Foreign Worker Visas, Texas Shrimp Industry Will Suffer

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 4, 2017 10:55 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas shrimp industry has struggled for years now. It’s faced high fuel prices and cheaper foreign imports. If that wasn’t enough – now shrimpers are facing a new problem altogether. Steve Clark is the business reporter for the Brownsville Herald:

“In December, Congress neglected to renew something called the returning worker exemption,” he says. “And that would allow Mexican nationals who work on shrimp boats on this side of the border to come back.”

Without these expedited foreign worker visas, Shrimp fleets are not going to have enough workers to man their boats when the season reopens in July.

“Shrimp Fleet owners are basically panicking right now and lobbying their elected representatives to try to get this fixed – so it’s a major crisis for the industry,” he says. 

Granted, Clark says the shrimp industry isn’t a big part of the Rio Grande Valley’s economy – but it’s still significant. 

“It seems like it’s more of a cultural legacy aspect to me – it would be a shame to lose the shrimping industry,” he says. 

The H-2B Returning Worker program requires employers to advertise their jobs to U.S. workers first. But as Clark reports, it is challenging to find Americans willing to work in the shrimp industry.

A new report finds one in six new mothers in Texas experience perinatal depression – commonly known as postpartum depression. That’s slightly more than the average of one in seven mothers nationwide.

The report is from the nonprofit Texans Care for Children. Adriana Kohler, senior health policy associate for the the organization, says only about half the state’s postpartum depression cases are diagnosed – and that can be costly for the health care system.

“Women suffering from postpartum depression are 4 times more likely to go to an emergency room,” she says. “So identifying and addressing postpartum depression early is key.”

The report makes 10 policy recommendations to improve mothers’ access to mental health services, including letting pediatricians screen for postpartum depression during a well-child visit. The Texas House Public Health Committee is taking up four bills today concerning this issue.

A manhunt is still underway for the person who shot and killed a deputy constable Monday morning in Baytown – a city near Houston.

Deputy Clint Greenwood was shot outside at the Harris County Annex Courthouse around 7 am yesterday. Greenwood, who had nearly 30 years of experience in law enforcement, died of his injuries.

Harris County Precinct 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton says his office has suffered a great loss.

“Precinct 3 Constable’s Office is standing strong, we have support from the Sheriff’s Office, Baytown Police Department, Texas Rangers,” he says. “We don’t have much information to put out right now, this is an ongoing investigation. And I just want to send my condolences out to the family.”

Police say they believe the shooting was intentional and targeted, although they have not identified a motive. The Baytown police have also released a video clip featuring a suspect vehicle.