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Guest worker programs : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, December 7, 1995 online

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GUEST WORKER PROGRAMS



Y 4. J 89/1:104/54






Guest Worker Progransi Serial No. 5...



HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION



DECEMBER 7, 1995



Serial No. 54










Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1996



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents. Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-052630-2



I'



GUEST WORKER PROGRAMS



Y 4. J 89/1:104/54

Guest Worker Prograns> Serial No. 5...

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION



DECEMBER 7, 1995



Serial No. 54




n Y

/

^^^ /



Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
23-561 WASHINGTON : 1996



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office. Washington. DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-052630-2



COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY

HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman



CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.,

Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
MARTIN R. HOKE, Ohio
SONNY BONO, California
FRED HEINEMAN, North Carolina
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
MICHAEL PATRICK FLANAGAN, Illinois
BOB BARR, Georgia

Alan F. Coffey, Jr., General Counsel I Staff Director
Julian Epstein, Minority Staff Director



JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
PATRICIA SCHROEDER, Colorado
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JOHN BRYANT, Texas
JACK REED, Rhode Island
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
XAVIER BECERRA, California
JOSE E. SERRANO, New York
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas



Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims

LAMAR SMITH, Texas, Chairman



ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
SONNY BONO, California
FRED HEINEMAN, North Carolina
ED BRYANT, Tennessee



JOHN BRYANT, Texas
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
XAVIER BECERRA, California



Cordia A. Strom, Chief Counsel

Edward R. Grant, Counsel

George Fishman, Assistant Counsel

Marie McGlone, Minority Counsel



(II)



CONTENTS



HEARING DATE



Page

December 7, 1995 , 1

OPENING STATEMENT

Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas,
and chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims 1

WITNESSES

Estrada, Richard, associate editor of the editorial page, Dallas Morning News,

and member, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform 26

Fraser, John, Deputy Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Depart-
ment of Labor 7

Goldstein, Bruce, attorney, Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc 164

Grimes, W.J., farmer, on behalf of the Vidalia Onion Business Council and

the Georgia Agribusiness Council 109

Heppel, Dr. Monica L., dean, School of Policy Studies, and research director,

Inter-American Institute on Migration and Labor, Mount Vernon College .... 36

Holt, James S., senior economist, McGuiness & Williams 175

Huerta, Dolores, first vice president, United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO 97

Maltsberger, W.A., rancher, Texas 189

Miller, Prof. Mark J., Department of Political Science and International Rela-
tions, University of Delaware 61

Mull, Linda Diane, executive director, Association of Farmworker Opportunity

Programs 194

Schacht, Mark S., executive director, California Rural Legal Assistance Foun-
dation 133

Taylor, J. Edward, associate professor of agricultural economics, University

of California at Davis 41

Vice, Bob L., president, California Farm Bureau Federation 75

Williams, Robert A., attorney, Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc 103

Young, John, president, National Council of Agricultural Employers 85

LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING

Estrada, Richard, associate editor of the editorial page, Dallas Morning News,
and member, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform: Prepared state-
ment 29

Fraser, John, Deputy Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Depart-
ment of Labor:

Information concerning farmworker turnover 25

Prepared statement 10

Statement by the President opposing efforts by the Congress to institute
a new guest worker program or bracero program concerning foreign

workers 8

Goldstein, Bruce, attorney, Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc.: Prepared state-
ment 166

Grimes, W.J., farmer, on behalf of the Vidalia Onion Business Council and

the Georgia Agribusiness Council: Prepared statement Ill

Heppel, Dr. Monica L., dean, School of Policy Studies, and research director,
Inter- American Institute on Migration and Labor, Mount Vernon College:
Prepared statement 38

(III)



IV

Page

Holt, James S., senior economist, McGuiness & Williams: Prepared state-
ment 176

Huerta, Dolores, first vice president, United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO: Pre-
pared statement 99

Maltsberger, W.A., rancher, Texas: Prepared statement 190

Miller, Prof. Mark J., Department of Political Science, and International
Relations, University of Delaware: Prepared statement 61

Mull, Linda Diane, executive director, Association of Farmworker Opportunity

Programs: Prepared statement 196

Schacht, Mark S., executive director, California Rural Legal Assistance Foun-
dation: Prepared statement 135

Taylor, J. Edward, associate professor of agricultural economics, University

of California at Davis: Prepared statement 43

Vice, Bob L., president, California Farm Bureau Federation: Prepared state-
ment 77

Williams, Robert A., attorney, Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc.: Prepared

statement 104

Young, John, president, National Council of Agricultural Employers: Prepared
statement 87



GUEST WORKER PROGRAMS



THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1995

House op^ Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,

Committee on the Judiciary,

Washington, DC.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:20 a.m., in room
2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Lamar Smith (chair-
man of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Lamar Smith, Elton Gallegly, Sonny
Bono, Ed Bryant of Tennessee, Howard L. Berman, and Xavier
Becerra.

Also present: Representatives Saxby Chambliss, Jack Kingston,
and Sam Farr.

Staff present: Cordia A. Strom, chief counsel; Edward R. Grant,
counsel; George Fishman, assistant counsel; Judy Knott, secretary;
and Marie McGlone, minority counsel.

OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SMITH

Mr. Smith. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will
come to order. I thank you all for being here today. Our hearing
is on the subject of agricultural guest worker programs.

Since the beginning of the bracero program during World War II,
the United States has had one or more guest worker programs op-
erating to provide seasonal agricultural labor for the Nation's
farms. Millions of workers have come temporarily, and of course
many permanently, to America under these programs. These for-
eign workers have insured successful harvests. In fact, the farmers
most reliant on foreign workers, fruit and vegetable growers, have
prospered greatly in recent years. But, for whatever reason, aliens
are just about the only people entering the occupation of seasonal,
agricultural work. Some have argued that this is because of poor
wages, others that Americans just won't do this type of work. I
hope today that we can become better informed about these issues.

We will also discuss the Immigration Reform and Control Act of
1986 which legalized over 1 million illegal alien farm workers, cre-
ated the H-2A guest worker program, and was supposed to halt il-
legal immigration. What effect has that act had over the last dec-
ade on the American agricultural labor force and American farms?

Lastly, we will hear about the future of agricultural guest worker
programs and under what, if any, scenarios they should be consid-
ered.

I look forward to hearing from all of today's witnesses who are
all experts in their own right. Before we get to opening statements



by other members who are here, let me just mention a couple of
points and make an announcement.

First of all, the ranking minority member of this subcommittee,
John Bryant, has been detained for a few minutes and will be here
shortly and will be in and out. He faces, as other members of this
subcommittee face today, a number of conflicts. Elton Gallegly just
told me he has two markups in another subcommittee and a full
committee.

I know that today, unfortunately, four subcommittees of the Ju-
diciary Committee are meeting, so we have a lot of competition,
and members will be coming and going, but I am pleased that we
are starting off with four members present right now.

The second point is that I would ask our 15 witnesses today, and
we obviously have much ground to cover, to limit their remarks to
5 minutes, as I would ask the members up here to limit their ques-
tions to 5 minutes. I will try to strictly enforce this rule so that we
can get through the four panels that we have and try to end at
some reasonable time this afternoon.

But, again, welcome to all. This is an important subject. There
is much to learn. There is much to discuss, and I appreciate the
interest.

We will go now to the gentleman from California, Mr. Berman,
for his opening remarks.

Mr. Berman. Well thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I
normally don't do this, but the subject matter of this hearing is
very important to me, and I do have an opening statement.

But, first, I guess I want to say that I want to particularly com-
pliment you. Generally, as you know, I think you are a very fair
chairman. We have some disagreements, we have some agree-
ments. But the hearing you put together today — in the 12 Vz years,
13 years now that I have been in Congress, we have had a number
of hearings on this subject very specifically and generally. I have
never seen a greater effort to put together a balanced representa-
tion of witnesses that cover all aspects, as well as outside experts
on this subject, than you have done today. And you and your staff,
I think deserve a tremendous compliment.

Mr. Smith. Thank you.

Mr. Bkrman. And by and large, those were democratically-run
hearings.

Mr. Chairman, the Federal Government is finally trying to gain
control of our borders. But no sooner has the effort gotten serious,
then the cry has gone up from agribusiness that if it can no longer
rely on a steady stream of undocumented farmworkers, the crops
will rot in the field. That claim is false. The U.S. Commission on
Immigration Reform, chaired by Barbara Jordan, had it exactly
right. They rejected the very claims of agribusiness which I expect
to hear today, and concluded that an agricultural guest worker pro-
gram, quote, "is not in the national interest and would be a griev-
ous mistake." The suggestion that there is an impending shortage
of U.S. farmworkers is a falsehood foisted on the public and on the
Congress by agricultural employers who prefer foreign farm work-
ers. Guest workers, no less than the undocumented, are powerless
to prevent inhumane and illegal wages and working conditions be-
cause they are fired and deported if they challenge those abuses.



Let's examine the facts. Numerous studies of the agricultural
labor market since enactment of [RCA, the 1986 law, have found,
without exception, a surplus, a large surplus, of agricultural labor,
evidenced by massive unemployment and underemployment among
farm workers.

Farmworkers average only 29 weeks of work annually, and earn
only $5,000 per year. Any effort to increase the labor supply by
weakening the protections in the current H-2A program, or creat-
ing a new guest worker program, would further impoverish Amer-
ican farmworkers and reduce the labor costs of agricultural employ-
ers, which is the growers' precise purpose, I fear, in seeking a new
or revised guest worker program.

Growers insist that the removal of undocumented workers from
agriculture, the tougher enforcement of employer sanctions, will
create shortages. But, if true, this is an open acknowledgment of
what we all know. Agribusiness has violated our immigration laws
by employing thousands of undocumented workers. They may try
to claim a safe harbor today by asserting that document fraud
makes it impossible for them to know whether a worker is in the
United States illegally. We have Mr. Gallegly and others who are
working on things to deal with that particular problem. But, what
we do know about agriculture is that they are taking great pains
not to know. That is the reason why since the enactment of IRCA
we have seen an absolute explosion in the use of farm labor con-
tractors by growers seeking to insulate themselves from liability for
violations of employer sanctions.

We've been down this path before of bowing to the special plead-
ing of the farm lobby. In 1986, and I was heavily involved in it,
Congress created a special seasonal, agricultural worker program
which resulted in the legalization of 1.1 million undocumented
farmworkers, the SAW program. Those people legalized; they be-
came Americans. The notion that Americans won't do this work is
really a canard. Reliable DOL data established that most of the
SAW's have remained in agriculture. Some have left because of ter-
rible wages and working conditions. But the way to rectify that
condition is for the growers to compete for their labor by improving
wages and working conditions. And don't forget that we are about
to enact major welfare reform legislation placing a time limit on
the/receipt of cash assistance after which heads of household will
be required to work.

Can it be seriously suggested that at the same time that Con-
gress is insisting that thousands of unskilled Americans leave the
public dole, we should import thousands of unskilled foreign work-
ers for jobs that Americans could fill? Underlying the argument for
an agricultural guest worker program is the notion that farm-
workers must be forever doomed to poverty and inequity. Why?
Where is it written in this free market economy that agricultural
employers need not improve wages and working conditions to at-
tract and retain an adequate supply of labor? Farmworkers should
be able to look forward to the day when growers feel sufficient
pressure from the good old laws of supply and demand to offer bet-
ter pay, longer employment, and meaningful benefits. Farmworkers
have suffered enough. Let's not make it worse with a new or re-
vised guest worker program. To do so would hurt American work-



ers and reward the very industry most responsible for the contin-
ued flow of illegal immigrants into this country. I can't believe my
colleagues want to do that.

Thank you.

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Berman. Mr. Gallegly, the gentleman
from California, is recognized.

Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you very
much for calling this hearing. And I look forward to hearing from
the distinguished witnesses that will be here today.

I just have a few observations to make related to the agricultural
guest workers. I think it's obvious why we are here today, and
we're here because there are an estimated somewhere between 50
and 80 percent of those that are working in our fields across the
Nation who are in this country illegally. In fact, the Jordan Com-
mission that testified in this very room before this committee went
on record publicly that by their estimates conservatively a mini-
mum of 50 percent of all of the farmworkers are here in the coun-
try illegally.

We're here because Congress is about to pass one of the toughest
bills on illegal immigration in this country's history. And we're
here because the combination of those two simple truths have a
whole range of people worried about the future. I look forward to
the hearing of the testimony today and to begin to form some of
my own opinions on the issue. Primarily, I want to find out if there
is going to be a need for a temporary ag worker program in the
wake of immigration reform. If there is such a need, and if meeting
that need does not come at the expense of the American workers,
then I think we should all get together on a program that is fair,
protective, and practical.

We know that the existing H-2A visa program is not workable
in its current form. The process is too time consuming and cum-
bersome to serve as a reliable source for agricultural labor. On this
point, the statistics really tell the story. Out of the roughly 2.8 mil-
lion seasonal agricultural workers in America last year, only about
15,000 came through the II-2A program. That's less than one-half
of a percent and certainly that's an indication that it is nowhere
near adequate.

Assuming we're able to identify a need for an agricultural guest
worker program, my primary focus is going to be on insuring that
the workers who take part in the program are treated fairly, that
they do not become a burden to the taxpayers when they are here,
and that they return to their homelands at the conclusion of their
work. Those are the primary goals that I have, and the questions
that I'm going to be asking of our guests today to try to come to
a conclusion as to whether or not we really need a program or not
or if we have enough domestic work to provide the needs for agri-
culture.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Gallegly. Mr. Becerra, the gentleman
from California.

Mr. BECERRA! Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I, too, would like to second what Mr. Berman has said, and
thank the chairman for such an extensive and also a very even-



handed opportunity to address the issue of a guest worker program
for this Nation.

I must say I do have some concern in the way I understand some
of the preparations of the hearing were handled with regard to
Members. I understand that there was a request by some Members
to testify at the hearing. My understanding, for the 3 years I've
been in Congress, is that normally a Member is extended the cour-
tesy of being able to testify.

Mr. Smith. If the gentleman would yield for a minute — I ne-
glected to say a while ago, and should have, that we are going to
be having a joint hearing with the relevant subcommittee of the
Agriculture Committee for the specific purpose of allowing Mem-
bers and others to testify. Clearly, Members need to be accommo-
dated. I will always attempt to do that, and we have done so by
having that day next week.

Mr. BECERRA. I appreciate the chairman's words, and I suspected
that would happen since the chairman has always been fair in that
regard, and I think it is important that Members who wish to ex-
press themselves on particular issues have that opportunity. And
as far as I knew, that was always the case any time a Member
wished to have the opportunity to present some testimony.

I'm disappointed as well that, as thorough as we are being pro-
vided an opportunity to have a hearing on this matter, that several
of the individuals who will be testifying, I suspect, in support of a
guest worker program, mostly from the growers' side failed to sub-
mit written testimony to give us an opportunity to read their testi-
mony prior to having them orally come before us. I think it's unfor-
tunate because, obviously, it's difficult in 5 minutes for them to
provide us with a full understanding of their concerns and their ar-
guments in support of a program. Perhaps once we have heard
their testimony, if they have not yet submitted something in writ-
ing, they'll do us the courtesy of providing something in writing.
That would be very helpful.

On the whole issue of a guest worker program, I'd like to keep
an open a mind as possible, but it's difficult when I take a look at
the fact that in this country we have unemployment that is some-
where around 6 percent, and of course that's just documenting
those who are still seeking work; we're not talking about those
who've decided because they are too frustrated not to seek work
anymore. In California, I know, we have unemployment still hover-
ing between 8 and 9 percent, and as far as I know, no one has ever
told me that to work in the fields of California you need to have
a BA or any type of college degree or any particular specialized
skill. If that were the case, my father probably would not have
been able to work in the fields as he did for many years of his life.

Mr. Berman. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. Becerra. Certainly I would.

Mr. BERMAN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

In the rural counties of California, we'll have testimony on this
later, the unemployment rate reaches, in many cases, twice as high
as the average or higher than the average for the entire California
unemployment rates, percentages of 15, 18, even 20 percent unem-
ployment.



6

Mr. Becerra. I thank the gentleman from California for adding
that.

I would just say that I'm interested in understanding, if we need
a program, why we need it, and why we have not been able to ad-
dress our labor shortages, if there are any, or our need for a guest
worker program in the past. I'm very interested in finding out how
we will address the concerns of those who are unemployed and
seeking work and who are either a citizen or a legal resident. I'm
also interested in understanding why it is that we must revamp
our program that we have under current immigration law which al-
lows growers to bring in individuals to provide labor in the field.
And I'm most interested in also hearing what some of the support-
ers of the guest workers programs position would be on the overall
immigration reform legislation that we have pending in Congress.
If they support the cuts to family unification categories of immigra-
tion which would allow parents, children, the siblings of United
States citizens to come into the country, which at this stage is in
jeopardy to some degree, I'd be interested what your thoughts are
on that.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I thank you again for convening this
hearing, and I'm very much looking forward to the testimony of all
the witnesses.

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Becerra.

Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Smith. Mr. Gallegly is recognized.

Mr. Gallegly. I know that this isn't common, but Mr. Becerra
made a couple of comments that I'd like to respond to, particularly
since I only used a couple of minutes of my opening time.

You made the statement that you don't need a B.A. to work in
the fields. You don't need a B.A. to be in Congress either, Mr.
Becerra. I will tell you the

Mr. Becerra. We might be better off if some folks didn't have
a B.A. [Laughter.]

Mr. Gallegly. Well, that's a tough one to follow up on.

I will tell you that I've learned a great deal about the technical
skills necessary to do the jobs that are required at least in the
fields in California. It's a little different in the Midwest, and so on,
where you use harvesters, but the skills necessary to do the jobs
in the fields and to do it adequately when you are dealing with per-
ishable produce, is highly technical. A guy that goes out and picks
strawberries doesn't go the next day and pick oranges. Someone
packing tomatoes in San Diego County doesn't go cut celery the
next day. These folks have specialty. And to watch these folks, it's
like finely-oiled machinery. And I might add that these folks are
not working for minimum wage, either. The celery folks, for in-
stance, it's not uncommon for them to be making $9 to $12 an
hour; the same thing for those that are working picking and pack-
ing tomatoes, and so on. So, it does require technical skills, maybe
not a bachelor's degree, but probably skills that a lot of people with
bachelor's degrees do not possess.

Mr. Becerra. Mr. Chairman, if I could just in 30 seconds re-
spond.

Mr. Smith. Mr. Becerra.



Mr. BECERRA. I'll bring my father here, and he could testify bet-
ter than I could on what is necessary to be able to do the work.
I agree with you completely. I am not saying that you don't need
skills, because you certainly do. Not only do you need skills, you
need to have stamina and determination, and quite honestly, tenac-



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JGuest worker programs : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, December 7, 1995 → online text (page 1 of 29)