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Trump Moves to Suppress Migrant Farmworker Wages

Trump administration changes to how H-2A wages are calculated will cost migrant farmworkers $170 million each year

Haitian and Mexican immigrants work long days on this farm in Upstate, NY. Long sleeves, hats, and scarves protect them from the dangers of the sun, pesticides and bugs. Photo: Arleen Thaler, 2018

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In recent weeks, the Trump administration has moved to suppress farmworkers’ wages across the country. The federal government currently surveys seasonal farmworkers on H-2A visas across the country to set hourly wages that correspond with local costs of living and inflation. In North Carolina, workers are paid $12.67 per hour; In California, it’s $2 more. But the Trump administration cancelled that survey and last week, it froze wages for H-2A workers for the next two years. Come 2023, wages for H-2A workers will be tied to a national index of worker pay that’s been rising more slowly than farmworker wages. This change will cost farmworkers $170 million in yearly wages. NPR

In other national immigration news…

Teenage Immigrants Work at Dangerous Factories With Little Regulation

Tens of thousands of young men have come to the United States over the past few years to live and work across the country. Garcia is one of them. During the day he learns English and other topics at high school. At night, he hoses down machinery at a food processing plant. Many of these young people are working to pay off debts to smugglers and sponsors and cover living costs to stay in the U.S. For many, their jobs, provided through temporary staffing agencies, are explicitly illegal. Companies that use child labor are rarely punished and the government agencies tasked with investigating them are largely toothless. ProPublica

Lawsuit: Tyson Plant Manager Bet On How Many Workers Would Contract COVID

While hundreds of Tyson’s largely immigrant meatpacking employees were getting sick from COVID-19 infections, supervisors privately bet money on how many workers would contract the virus, a lawsuit alleges. The family of Isidro Fernandez, who is among five workers at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, plant who died of COVID-19, sued the company earlier this year. They allege he was exposed to coronavirus there, as he had to work long hours in cramped conditions without proper personal protective equipment. The lawsuit also alleges a plant manager organized a “cash-buy-in, winner-take-all, betting pool for supervisors” on how many plant employees would test positive for COVID-19. Iowa Capital Dispatch 

Judge Blocks Trump Admin. From Rapidly Deporting Children

District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration’s policy of turning away migrant children at the border under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules. Since March, Customs and Border Protection has used the CDC’s emergency order to rapidly “expel” all migrants crossing the border, even asylum seekers and children, without hearing their claims. The judge found these measures exceed the unique authorities the CDC has in a pandemic. It allows authorities to prevent the “introduction” of foreigners, but it does let them turn away children who would usually be placed in shelters, Sullivan ruled. The New York Times

Increase in Number of Migrants Apprehended at the Border

More than 69,000 people were apprehended while crossing the border between points of entry in October, according to Customs and Border Protection. That’s the highest monthly border crossing figure since July 2019. Acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan said it was due to deteriorating economic conditions in Central America. Rapid expulsions at the border has also led to a high recidivism rate among people crossing. 37% of the people expelled between March and September had attempted to cross at least once in the previous year. Many were Mexican adults traveling alone. October’s numbers were an increase from 57,674 in September and 45,139 in October 2019. Associated Press

Mazin Sidahmed

Mazin Sidahmed is the co-executive director of Documented. He previously worked for the Guardian US in New York. He started his career writing for The Daily Star in Beirut and he also contributed to Politico New York.


Max Siegelbaum

Co-executive Director of Documented




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