National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Latest Regs Threaten Workers’ Rights, Ag. Employers’ Economic Viability, and Immigrants’ Privacy

December 10, 2008

Washington, DCToday, the Bush administration is making public regulatory changes to the H2A agricultural “guest-worker” visa program which, like other recently issued regulations, impacts not only immigrant workers, but all workers and the U.S. economy.  The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization in Washington.

 Before they leave town, the Bush Administration is hurrying to put their stamp on national immigration policy at the last minute.  The latest are regulations that erode the rights of workers in the H2A agricultural “guest-worker” program, thereby threatening the rights and working conditions of all workers in U.S. agriculture and throughout the economy.  Having failed to enact meaningful immigration reform, President Bush is on the verge of leaving to his successor an even more dysfunctional, unfair, and unrealistic immigration system than he himself inherited eight years ago.

Every new regulation issued by this Administration in its waning days is more work for the new President and Congress to undo through administrative changes, legislative initiative, or regulatory reform.  We are optimistic that the past several years of inaction on immigration reform – or actions that make things worse – will come to a close with the New Year and the breeze of change blowing through Washington.

Today’s regulatory changes weaken wage and worker protections for participants in the already exploitative H2A agricultural temporary worker program and makes the program even harder to use by decent employers trying to play by the rules and treat workers fairly.

The new regulations come on top of sweeping Justice Department regulations that potentially require all immigrants in deportation proceedings to submit DNA samples to federal authorities – another gross erosion of privacy rights for which this Administration has shown so little respect.  This rule comes on the heels of other recent troubling changes that saddle employers with unreliable worker verification programs like the E-Verify system and rules which implement the flawed SSA “no-match” program.

The Bush administration continues to ignore the need for meaningful, thoughtful immigration reform and the serious economic ramifications of regulations that undermine the rights of all workers.  In an unstable economy, hard-working immigrant and native-born workers need steady leadership, so the New Year can not come soon enough. 

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