Jeremy Beck's picture

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  by  Jeremy Beck

Mother Jones details another scathing report about the H-2B guest worker program, this time from the National Guestworker Alliance.

"According to the NGA report, the US seafood industry has relied heavily on H2-B guestworkers and undocumented immigrants to drive down labor costs..."

The report comes a month after BuzzFeed News published an investigative report detailing the inability (or unwillingness) of the Labor Department to protect workers. In December, BuzzFeed reported findings echoed the NGA report:

"...employers frequently exploit foreign H-2 workers, stealing their wages, housing them in squalid conditions, and even endangering their lives. At the same time, many companies use the program to avoid hiring qualified Americans, who by law are are supposed to get first crack at those jobs."

The H-2B guest worker program has been criticized by a diverse group of organizations and watchdogs including the Equal Justice Center, the Economic Policy Institute, the Center for Immigration Studies, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the Filipino Migrant Center, and the Government Accountability Office.

Despite the criticism (or perhaps because of it) there is an effort currently underway in Congress to pass a permanent increase in H-2B visas with little public debate or media attention. They have been mostly successful (there is no mention of the current push in the Mother Jones story).

Details from the National Guestworker Alliance's report include overcrowded housing, unsanitary living conditions, dangerous working conditions, withheld wages, and sexual harassment.

The H-2B expansion lobby argued in The Hill today that "these {guest} workers do the jobs that many Americans simply won’t do."

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

Updated: Wed, Jun 29th 2016 @ 4:40pm EDT

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