Workers shown in video arriving at Florida hotel are legal here as part of H-2A visa program

An online video purporting to show “illegal” migrant workers being taken by bus to a hotel in central Florida prompted dozens of people to protest there.

But the workers are actually legal in the US as part of a program that allows companies to bring in foreigners to do seasonal agricultural work.

The headline of a widely shared article on Facebook reads: “Impeach Biden! Laura Loomer registers hundreds more illegals dropped off at a Florida hotel”

The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to fight false news and misinformation on its news feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The article references a video shared on Jan. 30 on the social media site Gettr by Florida Congressional candidate Laura Loomer, who said it showed “a bus of Hispanic illegal aliens (sic) being dropped off for a Extended Stay hotel in Maitland where they get preloaded credit cards, hotel rooms and clothing.”

Dozens of protesters showed up in front of the Extended Stay America hotel a day later, waving signs against illegal immigration and President Joe Biden, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

It turned out that they were protesting for nothing.

Dewar Nurseries, the company that hired the workers, confirmed to local NBC station WESH-2 that the people in question were part of the H2-A visa program. The company has been participating in that program for years.

PolitiFact has contacted Dewar Nurseries, based in Apopka, and the Extended Stay hotel via email for comment, but has not heard back.

Bryan Nelson, the mayor of Apopka, confirmed in an email to PolitiFact that the workers in question are legal here as part of the 120-day visa program.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Department describes the H-2A program as a program that “can bring U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific legal requirements into the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.”

Program guidelines require participating employers to demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. employees who are able and willing to fill the jobs and that hiring the employees will not adversely affect wages or conditions for comparable U.S. workers.

Disclosure data provided by the Labor Department shows that in the fourth quarter of 2021, Dewar Nurseries joined the program, hiring dozens of “nursery nurseries” and housing them at Extended Stay.

In total, Labor Department data shows that 44,706 such jobs in Florida were certified by the department in fiscal year 2021, which ended in September.

Despite a WESH reporter telling her the workers were legal here, Loomer has since doubled down on her Gettr feed, writing, “Floridians don’t like suspicious, masked, foreign men being dumped into their communities unsupervised.” Loomer has been permanently banned from Twitter after anti-Muslim posts about U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and from Facebook for violating its “against dangerous individuals” policy.

our statement

An article shared on Facebook claims that migrant workers who arrived by bus at a hotel in central Florida are illegal here, citing a video first shared by a congressional candidate in Florida.

That’s not true, said the company that hired them and the mayor of Apopka. The people shown in the video were hired by Dewar Nurseries as part of the U.S. H2-A visa program, which allows employers to hire foreigners to fill seasonal agricultural jobs that could not otherwise be filled.

Data from the Labor Department confirms that the company participated in the program and housed employees at the Extended Stay Hotel.

We rate this claim as false.

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