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National

Maryland GOP governor wants

more visas for foreign workers

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s Republican governor on Tuesday urged federal officials to allow more H-2B visas for foreign workers to help the state’s $355 million seafood industry and seasonal employers.

Gov. Larry Hogan made the request in a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. Hogan also called for a long-term solution.

“These workers are vital to rural Maryland and in particular our Eastern Shore,” Hogan wrote. “In addition to lifting the cap, I ask that you partner with Congress and Maryland’s congressional delegation to finally find a long-term solution to this issue.”

In a typical year, 500 H-2B seasonal workers are needed for Maryland’s 20 licensed crab picking houses, the governor said. The number of H-2B visas is now capped at 66,000 nationally.

Last year, the federal government allowed an additional 30,000 visas through the program, after a 2018 decision to limit the number.

California man sentenced to

death for killing family of 4

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California man was sentenced to death Tuesday for the 10-year-old killings of a family of four whose bodies were found buried in shallow graves in the California desert.

Charles “Chase” Merritt was convicted in June of killing his former business associate Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife, Summer, and their 4- and 3-year-old sons, Gianni and Joseph Jr. Prosecutors say he bludgeoned them with a sledgehammer.

The family disappeared without a trace in February 2010. Their bodies were not found until 2013, when an off-road motorcyclist came across them in the Mojave Desert. Merritt was arrested the following year.

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael Smith upheld the jury’s recommendation of death following a two-day sentencing hearing that included a flurry of last-minute motions from Merritt and his lawyer, who accused prosecutors of misconduct, Merritt’s earlier attorneys of incompetence and, on Tuesday, tried to remove the judge himself from the case. All of the motions were denied.