The Departments of Labor, Agriculture, State, and Homeland Security are coordinating a dangerous attack on immigrants and our food system under the guise of 'streamlining and improving' the H2A guestworker visa program — by expanding and rebranding it as the H2C guestworker visa program.
On October 25, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee passed Representative Goodlatte's "Agricultural Guestworker Act" (AGA), HR 4092. The AGA was then included in a broader anti-immigrant bill, introduced by Goodlatte in January 2018: the "Securing America's Future Act of 2018," HR 4760. This bill is one of possibly multiple immigration bills the House of Representatives is planning to vote on in June.
'Streamlining and improving' is a euphemism for deregulation. If passed, this proposed legislation would:
- Extend the use of the exploitative guestworker program (which is currently limited to temporary and seasonal jobs) throughout our entire food system: from farms and ranches to packing houses and processing plants, and from seasonal crops to year-round dairy cows and poultry farms
- Deprive local farmworkers of jobs by reducing employers' local recruitment obligations even further
- Limit guestworkers' access to judicial and legal assistance, while minimizing government oversight of the guestworker program
- Create new levels of discriminatory bureaucracy and dysfunction, such as withholding 10% of guestworkers' wages until they meet a complicated series of requirements, and eliminating the requirement that employers provide housing or travel-expense reimbursement
This bill does not provide a path to citizenship for the current experienced, undocumented farmworkers or their family members. Instead, it is an attack on family-based immigration, reducing immigrant workers in the food system to individual commodities to be imported and exported cheaply for the profit of agribusiness.
Corporations like California-based Sarbanand Farms, growing berries in Whatcom County, with the help of Dan Fazio and wafla, are leading this dangerous shift in Washington State. Fazio is the Executive Director of a farm labor contracting firm now modernized to also act as a WA-based corporate grower lobby association and rebranded as wafla. Wafla is actively campaigning to support the expansion of the guestworker program into H2C, lobbying for the removal of worker protections and providing further incentive to similar employer associations. Their membership is calling their elected officials in support of Goodlatte's legislation.
Wafla made $8,191,969 this last fiscal year, compared to $150,180 only three years ago. Wafla profits off of this modern-day slave trading program: their income rises as they contract more and more H2A guestworkers in Washington, California, and more recently Idaho. This market will only expand with the proposed legislation. Unsurprisingly, there is no language in the proposed bills that would regulate employer association organizations such as wafla.
THIS IS THE TIME TO TAKE ACTION! Help us right one of the great wrongs in our food production system. Stop the expansion of H2A in WA State.
Call your Legislator in the House of Representatives and tell them to vote no on "Securing America's Future Act of 2018," HR 4760! To find your representative, visit: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
Call the Attorney General and demand they investigate wafla, the largest Farm Labor Contracting business in WA State: (360) 753-6200