A curious memo from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently touted “expansion of labor pathways” for foreign farmworkers into the U.S. The announcement was odd because there are no caps on H-2A visas, so talk of “expansion” seems superfluous, if not nonsensical.
Beyond that, the memo promoted a lone nonprofit group that has received government funding to “defray costs for employers.” The group, Cierto, says its mission is to “actively develop and maintain a professional, career-oriented agricultural workforce committed to return to [U.S.] farms year after year.”
How much taxpayer money is Cierto getting, and to do what exactly? And why is the nonprofit singled out for this “whole of government effort”? Neither USCIS nor Cierto have responded to these queries.
“It is unusual, to say the least, for the government to publicly pick favorites among non-governmental entities,” notes Rob Law at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Cierto, on its website, describes itself as “one of North America’s leading recruiters, dedicated to assisting employers with the federal H-2A visa program.” Without providing any numbers, the nonprofit says, “We recruit, train and place experienced workers on farms in the United States.”
For its part, the USCIS memo states, “We want the expansion of temporary worker programs to be coupled with worker protections and ethical recruitment practices.”
That’s a nice sentiment. But while paying lip service to safeguarding foreign laborers, the “whole of government effort” says nothing about the protection or employment of U.S. citizens wanting to work for a living wage.
Meantime, multifarious federal agencies are manifestly failing to halt the importation and exploitation of teenage illegal aliens who work dirt cheap in this country’s ag sector.
It’s easy work to write a memo that, in Law’s words, “reads like an April Fool’s joke.” Rather than shilling for a favored foreign labor broker, a serious “whole of government effort” to enforce U.S. immigration and labor laws must be Job One.