Jun. 14, 2012
Let the H-2B guestworker program do what it’s supposed to
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted on the 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill, including amendments that would severely undercut worker protections in the H-2B guestworker program. All Republicans on the Committee, as well as Democratic Senators Mikulski, Pryor, Nelson, Landrieu, and Kohl, voted in favor of the amendments.
See the Hill Congress Blog for further analysis by Rebecca Smith of NELP’s Immigrant Worker Justice Project. Smith writes:
"For years, employers have rigged the H-2B recruitment process against U.S. workers. By misrepresenting the work hours or openings actually offered, or rejecting U.S. workers for other than lawful, job-related reasons, employers have often cut corners and skipped over U.S. job candidates so they can take on foreign guest workers for less pay. In one case, for example, a company tried to discourage applications by scheduling interviews for 6 p.m. Christmas Eve."
"At the same time, foreign workers have fallen prey to unscrupulous employers and recruiters who search the developing world for the most vulnerable workers they can hire. Lured with false promises of permanent green cards and lucrative jobs when these workers arrive in the United States — after signing over property deeds, dissolving life savings and falling into debt to pay up to $20,000 in “recruitment” fees — the well-paid jobs they were promised don’t materialize. Instead, they are forced to work off their debt in horrendous conditions."
"In short, the new rules are a modest attempt to bring order to a system in dire need of it. Senators and H-2B employers alike should get behind this sensible approach and not stand in the way of treating workers fairly."