New federal rules to protect guest farmworkers to be implemented

Elisa Navarro Image
Thursday, May 9, 2024
New federal rules to protect guest farmworkers to be implemented
In June, there will be new federal rules for the H-2A program meant to better protect farmworkers.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- For decades, U.S. employers or agents who meet specific requirements can hire people from foreign countries to fill temporary agricultural jobs through the H-2A program.

In June, new rules will be put into play to serve farmworkers better.

Diego Iñiguez-Lopez with the United Farm Workers Foundation (UFW) says while the program is a great opportunity for people in search of work in the United States, not everyone will have the best experience and often times feel vulnerable

"This victory is a result of farmworkers fighting for it for years and years and advocating for increased protection," Iñiguez-Lopez said.

The U-F-W posted several stories of farmworkers sharing their personal experiences on social media.

"Operation Blooming Onion was an investigation and processed by the federal government where they identified employers using the H-2A program fraudulently to get workers in Georgia, Florida, Texas and that resulted in the death of two farm workers, sexual assault and other abuses," Iñiguez-Lopez said.

The adjustments made to the H-2A program will:

  • Strengthen protections against trafficking by prohibiting employers from confiscating passports.
  • Make it more difficult for employers to commit wage theft by requiring transparency.
  • Strengthen workers' rights to advocate and form a union.
  • Protect workers from unjust firing and retaliation
  • target unlawful fees andincrease enforcement tools against abusive employees.

Iñiguez-Lopez says the UFW will continue fighting for rights and is proud of those who have been a voice.

"There are many stories of them speaking out, of them working with their co-workers and advocating successfully and this is a larger result of that," Iñiguez-Lopez said.

The new federal rules of the H-2A program go into effect on June 28.

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