Guest worker housing program is necessary
The Yuma Sun's editorial calling for a special agricultural guest worker program (“Still a need for commuter farmworker program,” Sept. 25) is based on several mistakes and reaches the wrong conclusion. Recent proposals for a new border commuter program are little more than efforts to remove needed protections in current guest worker programs against homelessness, low wages and labor abuses. Both guest workers and U.S. farmworkers would suffer.
The H-2A agricultural guest worker program requires employers to offer migrant workers housing that meets labor standards at no charge. Those workers have the freedom to decline the offer if they have other housing. There is no reason to remove the housing requirement based on the argument that many workers don't need the housing.
Removing the housing requirement would harm workers and local communities on both sides of the border. While some Mexican citizens who work under the H-2A program return each night to their homes across the border, some workers prefer to avoid the time-consuming commute home. During the harvest, farmworkers routinely work more than 10 hours a day. To commute, they must wake up in the middle of the night to travel and face long lines at border crossing checkpoints. Others have no home across the border, so removing the housing requirement would force some farmworkers to sleep on the streets and in the fields.
The most important remedy for the problems of agricultural employers and farmworkers would be legislation that allows the current undocumented farmworkers and guest workers to obtain a legal immigration status with an opportunity to earn citizenship.