UFW: U.S. canít afford replacing domestic workers with foreign laborers through expansion of the H2A program
UFW: U.S. can’t afford replacing domestic workers with foreign laborers through expansion of the H2A program
United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez issued the following statement as the U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing on April 13, 2011 in Washington, D.C. entitled, “The H-2A Visa Program: Meeting the Growing Needs of American Agriculture.”
In the midst of a severe economic crisis, America must not import hundreds of thousands of additional field laborers as H-2A agricultural guest workers unnecessarily into this country from outside the U.S. Rather than expanding this already exploitive guestworker program, we should be focused on providing legal channels for workers who are currently working in agriculture to work with dignity and without fear of deportation.
Expanding the existing H-2A program would import hundreds of thousands more farm workers who would labor for low pay and few, if any, benefits, and then be told to go home. History shows many of them would not return to their country of origin after their legal employment ends.
Since deporting all undocumented farm workers currently in this nation would cause the collapse of the agricultural industry, the only equitable and practical solution is letting undocumented workers here now earn legal status by continuing to work in agriculture. That is exactly what would happen under the broadly supported bipartisan AgJOBS bill, negotiated by the United Farm Workers and the nation’s growers.
AgJOBS, which is embraced by leading Democrats and Republicans in Congress, offers growers a legal and stable work force, ensures domestic workers receive jobs before foreign workers are imported and protects guest workers from being exploited as they have been in the past. One-sided changes to the H-2A program do not solve our nation's agricultural labor supply issues. Congress needs more members with the courage to debate real solutions and to pass the AgJOBS bill.