Thursday, April 5, 2012
Louisiana: New Laborers, New Laws by Robin Raasch
ABSTRACT: Migrant labor, particularly Hispanic migrants in Louisiana, positively impact the fiscal health of the Louisiana economy. Small and large Louisiana business owners cannot maximize their economic potential without an ample supply of migrant labor. Historically, and today, the Louisiana market demands the use of cheap labor. A Louisianan ideological tenent is one of hard work and fair compensation. But our business owners and migrant workers are not able to achieve independent economic goals because of a systematic breakdown in the supply of labor. The failure of the federal H2A and H2B worker programs is contributing to the economic loss of numerous local Louisiana businesses. These businesses are not able to access enough workers in part because the federal program’s cap on the number of workers allowed in the United States to work. The numeric cap does not provide enough workers, and the federal program suffers from weak program management and implementation. Louisiana’s passage of laws that effectively prevent migrant workers from accessing and contributing to the economy is also a contributing factor. Migrant workers are not legally protected, and crimes are committed against them without recourse. Migrant labor in Louisiana should be legislatively controlled and protected. The tax base would expand and bring in more revenue for the state if wages of migrant labor were legally legitimized by Louisiana. This paper focuses on the need for a legislatively created guest-worker permit program for Louisiana.