Thursday, January 17, 2013

Study Highlights Abuses in the Recruitment of Migrant Workers Employed under the H-2 Temporary Worker Program and Recommends Change

It appears that Congress will soon be seriously considering immigration reform.  We are likely to hear about the need for new -- or expanding existing -- "guest worker" programs.  In contemplating these proposals, it is helpful to consider how the existing guest worker programs function.

Over 100,00 temporary workers are recruited abroad for employment in the United States each year under the H-2 temporary worker program. Policymakers view the U.S. guestworker programs, including the H-2 temporary worker program, as a central component of immigration reform in 2013. Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) released a report today, Recruitment Revealed: Fundamental Flaws in the H-2 Temporary Worker Program and Recommendations for Change, which exposes substantial defects in the current H-2 program's recruitment systems and proposes changes that will prevent worker exploitation and abuse. The report explains that many temporary workers are routinely subjected to fraud, charged illegal fees, and threatened, intimidated, and mistreated by recruiters and employers. "Temporary workers are important participants in the U.S. economy and deserve to be treated with dignity," said Rachel Micah-Jones, CDM's Executive Director. "By maintaining or expanding the H-2 worker visa programs as they currently operate, the U.S. will continue to place temporary workers and their families at risk for exploitation." The report is the result of an intensive, multi-source investigative study that involved over 220 lengthy interviews with workers, requests pursuant to governmental transparency laws in the U.S. and Mexico, and institutional surveys. H-2 workers are employed in industries such as agriculture, landscaping, forestry and hospitality. Until now, little has been understood about the conditions under which migrant workers are recruited for these jobs. To increase transparency in recruitment, an interactive online tool is being launched along with the report. This tool details abuses uncovered through the study and allows the public to report recruitment abuses online. Support for the study, report and interactive online tool was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Solidarity Center. The study was conducted to gain deeper insight into the experiences of H-2 temporary workers during their recruitment in Mexico and employment in the United States.


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