Thursday, May 24, 2007

Temporary workers and Mexico

The NYT has a great story about how corruption in Mexico colors the current H2A (temporary agricultural worker) program. Recruiters charge around $600 and a union organizer was killed in Monterrey for trying to eliminate the graft. Since the H2A program involves fewer than 40,000 workers annually, the potential increase to hundreds of thousands poses a real challenge to Mexican institutions. I haven’t seen anything in the current proposal that provides assistance to Mexico (not to mention Central America and the Caribbean) to coordinate and organize such a large number of workers, which will be a constant process.

Incidentally, the problems of corruption and mistreatment of migrant workers in Mexico are highlighted really well in the novel Bracero by Eugene Nelson. It's been long out of print but definitely deserves new life.


Anonymous,  9:51 AM  

Yes, there is corruption in Mexico among the H2A/H2B recruiters. The US Consulate in Monterrey has the power and authority to stop most of it should they choose to do so. I believe that our consulates take action on the most egregious, flagrant and unavoidable cases but that there is no investigative outreach to really clean it up. It is not against Mexican law to charge a great deal of money for "recruiting" so the Mexican government is no help. The workers are unbelievable reluctant to report this abuse due to justified fear of reprisals by the "recruiters". I know of first-hand and second-hand oral reports of recruiter abuse but when asked, the workers will not write down and stand behind their words. Please appreciate the current situation in Mexico where the drug gangs are lopping off heads of their enemies. As a powerless, poor campesino, is it really the time to report your local "recruiter"? The Mexicans who truly need the work in the US and have intentions of returning to Mexico often shop around for the lowest fees and the trustworthy recruiters. The Mexicans who have just want to cross the border for their own reasons use the recruiters as another type of coyote and pay the fees demanded.
Also, there have been publicly reported corruption cases INSIDE the US Consulates in Mexico. It is entirely in the hands of the US government to clean up the visa system. When there is an uncorrupted and incorruptible US agency to report these matters to, there will be rapid improvements. Right now, a whistleblower will be punished by our government. This is our own shameful corruption throughout our Federal Government.

Greg Weeks 7:36 AM  

I can't really add anything to that, rather than to wonder about the effects of making the temporary worker program much bigger.

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