Latest News

Below are our latest news on important news and events relating to policy changes and issues affecting farmworkers and their families.

November 28, 2016

Most representatives of agricultural employers and farmworkers agree that immigration reform is desperately needed so that the hard-working, experienced agricultural workers who lack authorized immigration status have an opportunity to earn immigration status and a path to citizenship.

However, the article, “We’d better have a good door: Colorado farmers depend on immigrants to feed the country,” should not have accepted the one-sided viewpoint of some farmers about the H-2A agricultural guest-worker program. The reality is that the program is not all that difficult to use. It’s been around in one form or another for decades. It has certain wage and labor protections to prevent displacement of U.S. workers or undermining of their wages and minimize exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers. There is no limit to the number of H-2A visas each year, and the U.S. Department of Labor approves almost all employers’ applications.

The H-2A program protections should not be weakened and should be enforced more effectively. More importantly, undocumented farmworkers and their family members should be given a chance to obtain a green card and continue their work to feed our nation.

Bruce Goldstein, president, Farmworker Justice, a national advocacy organization for farmworkers

November 02, 2016

A Framework for Managing Immigration,” by Eduardo Porter (Economic Scene column, Oct. 26), supports a proposal for a United States-Mexico temporary foreign worker program made by the Center for Global Development.

In discussing the Bracero guest worker program, the column notes the serious labor abuses that are inherent in guest worker programs but suggests that there can be solutions to prevent labor abuses in a future program. The experience with guest worker programs in the last century justifies skepticism about this claim.

An even greater concern, not discussed in the column, is the threat to our country’s democratic values posed by guest worker programs.

If this country truly needs to draw from other countries to find additional workers, such workers should be given the opportunity to become immigrants with a path to citizenship. They should not be deprived of the opportunity to earn the right to vote and participate in the civic life of this country.

Our democracy is undermined by relegating people to a temporary status and denying them the opportunity for immigration status and citizenship.

Bruce Goldstein, President Farmworker Justice

August 04, 2016

The article “Ag issues crop up in Gardner’s tour” quotes a farm operator who suggests that problems in the H-2A agricultural guest worker program should be solved by turning the program over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA has no infrastructure, expertise, or history administering guest worker programs, in agriculture or in any other sector.

The U.S. Department of Labor has the longstanding responsibility for several guest worker programs. Taxpayer money would be wasted in such a restructuring.

Although H-2A program delays are being addressed, we agree that there should be more resources to administer the program and enforce the modest labor protections for U.S. and foreign farmworkers. The fees charged to employers for this program’s services are woefully low, inadequate to the task, and should be raised. The more important solution is for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes an opportunity for immigration status and a path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers, who make up the majority of the agricultural workforce.

BRUCE GOLDSTEIN
Washington, District of Columbia