Mexico’s immigrant seasonal and temporary workers in Georgia should be protected by the same guarantees as its immigrant agricultural workers here, Teodoro Maus, Mexico’s consul general based in Atlanta, told GlobalFax last week.
Mr. Maus cited the Georgia Growers Association, which is composed of employers of agricultural workers, as a model for other industry associations because it oversaw implementation of all the guarantees required by the H2A visas issued to agricultural workers.
These guarantees include proper living accommodations, adequate transportation and time off. Meanwhile, Mr. Maus said, the H2B visas issued to the seasonal and temporary workers do not include these protections.
Many of the workers would rather be undocumented than under a visa such as H2B that enslaves them, he said. He cited several cases of abuse involving workers with H2B visas, including a forestry worker who had been shackled at night.
During an interview in the Mexican Consulate General in Brookhaven, Mr. Maus credited Dan Bremer, a labor consultant, with the formation last year of the Georgia Growers Association in Norman Park, the Colquitt County seat located in southwest Georgia. He added associations related to construction and other urban work in Atlanta and other Georgia cities should follow the example of the growers association.
Mr. Bremer said in a telephone interview that the member growers quickly agreed to the idea of forming the association when they became aware that the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Society Security Administration were preparing further crackdowns on the hiring a illegal immigrants. They’re the employers who want to do things right, he added.
According to the state Department of Labor, there have been 38 applications for some 1,730 H2A visas so far this year, while since July there have been 15 requests for 2,000 H2B visas.
For more information, Mr. Maus may be reached at the consulate by calling (404) 266-2233. Mr. Bremer may be reached at (501) 851-8352.