Just before President Bush left office, his administration introduced a set of rules which would make it both easier and cheaper for agricultural employers to hire temporary migrant workers. Now Friday, the day that Secretary Solis was officially sworn into office, she has gone about setting things right again.
The Bush rules cut wages temporary migrant workers would receive for their labor, as well as lowered the amount employers had to contribute toward migrant travel costs.
The rules were deeply criticized by labor, farm worker, and immigrants' rights groups, as they would further exploit the work of H2A visa holders and take jobs away from U.S. workers. Critics of the H2A guestworker programs (like FCNL) challenge the fact that guestworker programs often cause employers to make permanent jobs temporary. Moreover, the guestworker program binds a worker's visa status to a single employer, giving the employer power over the worker and thus increasing the liklihood of exploitation.
The Bush rules only made things worse.
At FCNL, we applaud Secretary Solis for taking this first step in suspending the farm rules and upholding both immigrant and labor rights.
For more information, see the NY Times article "Labor Secretary Proposes Suspending Farm Rules."