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News for Southeastern Arizona, provided by the University of Arizona School of Journalism

Guest farm workers do not always understand the rules

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With almost no one in the U.S. willing to work harvest jobs, farms have imported workers via temporary visas, a program widely criticized for the extensive bureaucratic requirements including housing workers. This winter Yuma area farms are expected to produce around 90 percent of the nation’s lettuce and green crops, meaning these farms need to find enough labor to harvest their crops. This year, 77 Arizona worksites requested temporary workers, of those four were denied. A total of 5,676 imported workers have so far worked or will work in Arizona this year. Arizona had six housing violations filed since the beginning of 2016, two of which were the same farm. The housing inspections are conducted by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. G farms was listed among the violators for “job order specification” and “misrepresented terms and conditions of...

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How farms cope with a closed border

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With winter lettuce season starting in November, farms and the agriculture industry are rushing to find workers for harvest. A difficult task, made more difficult with the anti-immigration rhetoric coming from the current administration. For Arizona, the stakes are high, especially for the Yuma area, where roughly 90 percent of national lettuce and leafy greens are produced in winter. With the immigrant labor supply already drying up in the United States, farm operators have had to turn to controversial H2-A visas to import and employ temporary agriculture workers. A program that, as it stands, is not popular. “The farmworkers, especially H2-A guest workers, generally don’t have any bargaining power to demand a better wage,” said Bruce Goldstein, president of Farmworker Justice, a nonprofit migrant worker rights group based in Washington D.C. “If they want to come back in a...

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