Tag: H2A visa

Feet in Two Worlds

On First Day, New Labor Secretary Moves to Reverse Bush’s Guest Farmworker Rule

Feet in Two Worlds

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

As soon as she took office Friday, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solís moved to reverse a rule affecting guest farmworkers that former President George W. Bush had modified in his last days in office.

The changes included eliminating duplication among state and federal agencies in processing applications, putting in place a new wage formula, and increasing fines for willfully displacing United States citizens with foreign workers.

Critics said Bush’s rules would push already poor wages even lower, reduce worker protections, and make it easier to hire foreigners without actually looking for American employees first.

Solís had been among the many critics of Bush’s decision, which was made in December but went into effect Jan. 17, three days before President Barack Obama was sworn in. At the time, then-U.S. Rep. Solís issued a statement calling the Bush rules “just the latest example of how out of touch the president is with working families, especially with Latino families that make up a large portion of the farmworkers in this country.”

On Solís’ first day in office, the Labor Department announced in a statement “the proposed suspension for nine months” of the rule. Solís said in the release:

Because many stakeholders have raised concerns about the H-2A regulations, this proposed suspension is the prudent and responsible action to take.

Suspending the rule would allow the department to review and reconsider the regulation, while minimizing disruption to state workforce agencies, employers and workers.


Bush's Parting Shot On Guest Worker Program Severely Criticized

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

A worker picks up tobacco leaves and puts them on a truck that will take them to a barn, in Kinston, NC.

A worker picks up tobacco leaves on a field outside Kinston, NC.
(Photo: D. Graglia/newyorktomexico.com)

Barely a month before leaving office, President George W. Bush has instituted changes in a guest worker program for agricultural workers, prompting harsh criticism from both ethnic and mainstream media and immigrant advocates.

“Backstab to immigrants. President Bush changes rule at the last hour. Silence from Latino leaders,” screamed the cover of New York’s Hoy newspaper Tuesday. “A Cheap Shot at Workers,” was the headline of a New York Times editorial.

The H-2A program (which grants visas under that name) allows agricultural producers to hire foreign workers temporarily when they cannot find Americans to fill job vacancies. The Bush Administration claims the changes — which are expected to become official today with their publication in The Federal Register — will help reduce bureaucratic obstacles for employers who want to hire foreign farm workers.