As a supply truck backed up to the loading docks of G.W Hall and Sons on Hooper's Island last week, anxious crabbers stood by to unload dozens of bushels of live Maryland blue crabs.
For generations, this has been a familiar scene at the start of crabbing seasons on Maryland's Eastern Shore: scores of crabs off to be steamed and then picked apart for their meat.
This year, however, many in the industry are feeling the blues about what happens after the crabs are unloaded. That's because President Donald Trump's tighter restrictions on legal immigration are causing a shortage of laborers who handpick crab meat, putting some businesses in danger of shutting down.
Hooper's Island, in the Chesapeake Bay, is the heart of Maryland's crab industry. Seafood processors like G.W. Hall rely on foreign labor for crab picking. The workers are usually women from Mexico on temporary H-2B visas.
Demand for applications was so high this year that, for the first time, businesses had to enter a federal lottery to bring in foreign workers — and not everyone was a winner.