The J-1 nonimmigrant visa program allows employers to hire foreign workers under the auspices of an educational and cultural exchange visitor program without testing the U.S. labor market.

The outcry over Devyani Khobragade's treatment is drowning out the serious allegations of exploiting her employee, also an Indian national, and the pervasive violations against millions of other domestic workers around the world and in the homes of diplomats in America.

Farmworkers are paid low wages, they experience high rates of injury and death on the job, and in spite of the fact that it’s now illegal under federal law to cheat farmworkers out of wages as well as out of Social Security contributions—it still happens. Undocumented immigrant farmworkers live in fear of deportation. And many of the female farmworkers live with the threat of sexual harassment.

On Oct. 8, tens of thousands of immigration-reform activists are expected to rally in Washington, D.C., to call on Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11.7 million undocumented immigrants. Among their number will be civil rights activists who primarily represent other causes. It won't be the first time we've seen leaders draw parallels between the causes of immigrants and those of other oppressed groups.

Most media coverage of immigration today accepts as fact claims by  growers that they can't get enough workers to harvest crops. Agribusiness wants a new guest worker program, and complaints of a labor shortage are their justification for it. But a little investigation of the actual unemployment rate in farm worker  communities leads to a different picture.

Labor-recruitment firms brought the workers from Jamaica to the Florida Panhandle. Cleaning contractors hired them and then leased them out to scrub toilets and sweep sand from floors for vacation property companies.

Sukh Singh had a college degree in mechanical engineering and a dream of working in the United States, but that seemed impossible from his small farming village in northern India. Then a man named Sukhwinder came to town in November. He says he had just come back from America. He dressed the part, with designer jeans, distinct T-shirts and "fancy sunglasses." He even talked the part, sporting close to an American accent.

Everything you know about immigration, particularly unauthorized immigration, is wrong. So says Princeton University’s Doug Massey, anyway. Massey is one of the nation’s preeminent immigration scholars. And he thinks we’ve wasted a whole lot of money on immigration policy and are about to waste a whole lot more.

A recently concluded trial highlights how weaknesses in the country’s guestworker programs can facilitate human trafficking.
The full text of S.744, the Senate's immigration bill as passed on June 27, 2013.

Au pair agencies have joined summer camp operators, hotels and an array of other companies that rely on cultural-exchange programs to provide their businesses with overseas labor to lobby against provisions in the Senate immigration bill aimed at regulating recruitment practices.

Una reforma migratoria integral debe contemplar provisiones especiales para proteger a miles de trabajadores temporales extranjeros y evitar que continúen sufriendo abusos y explotación, demandaron el lunes abogados e inmigrantes.

Varios extrabajadores temporales denunciaron hoy en Miami los abusos cometidos por contratistas y empleadores y pidieron una reforma migratoria integral que proteja sus derechos y ponga fin a la explotación en el trabajo.

 

Former Guest Worker Fernanda Defaz & SPLC Deputy Legal Director Jim Knoepp on Why CIR Must Protect Guest Workers

 

Fernanda Defaz denunció el abuso de su empleador que durante la pasantía la hizo limpiar baños.

Employers and sponsors who urge Congress to ignore the fact that exchange visitors are full time workers and maintain the status quo in the immigration system--thus allowing abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking of young students from around the world to continue--are going too far.

Dozens of Filipino guest workers came to Louisiana on promises of a better life for their loved ones back home. But years later, they say they were lured here by lies and treated like slaves.

When Patrick and Sharon O'Toole began their ranching business on the Wyoming-Colorado border, they tended the sheep themselves. But eventually, the O'Tooles wanted to settle down and have kids, so they hired foreign ranch hands with H-2A, or guest worker, visas to work on the ranch for $750 a month.

 

Peruvian shepherds on guest worker visas tend thousands of sheep in Wyoming, but they only make about half of what agricultural workers elsewhere are paid.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina not only almost destroyed New Orleans and wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast. The hurricane may also have opened the door for human trafficking for one company, according to lawsuits filed in Texas and Mississippi on Tuesday.

A coalition of some of the nation’s most prestigious law firms today began filing a series of federal lawsuits to prosecute multiple human trafficking and racketeering allegations against a Gulf Coast marine services company and its network of recruiters and labor brokers. 

ACLU: Prestigious Law Firms Join Fight for Guestworkers' Rights in Major Human Trafficking Case

05/21/2013

Huffington Post: 24 Million Reasons to Protect Immigrant Whistleblowers

05/20/2013
In a U.S. economy where tens of millions are struggling, guestworkers on H-2B visas are trapped at the bottom. These so-called "low skilled" temporary workers occupy fields from hospitality to construction to landscaping to food processing -- alongside 24 million U.S. workers in the same sectors. And the job quality of those 24 million depends on whether guestworkers can blow the whistle on abuse.

As the Senate gets ready to debate the details of a broad U.S. immigration bill, a group of House of Representatives lawmakers is still struggling to write its own legislation, hung up in part over guest worker programs sought by businesses.

With the introduction of a bipartisan immigration bill in the U.S. Senate, the Southern Poverty Law Center urged lawmakers today to protect the human and civil rights of low-skill workers as they consider ways to bring 11 million immigrants out of the shadows.

As Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform, lawmakers should not look to the current federal guestworker program – a program rife with labor and human rights violations – as a model for handling the future flow of low-wage foreign workers, according to an SPLC report released today.

 

As federal lawmakers appear ready to consider federal immigration reform, the Southern Poverty Law Center urged federal lawmakers today to examine federal guestworker programs, which are rife with abuse and violations of workers’ rights.