November 2, 2023 at 5:00 p.m
Shown is a pecan farm in Georgia. (Hyosub Shin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
Migrant farmworkers in Georgia and across the country are set to receive new protections from employer abuse.
Last month, the Biden administration announced a set of new rules aimed at modernizing the H-2A visa program for farm workers, strengthening workers’ rights and creating opportunities for migrants to leave bad employers without losing their legal status to endanger in the country.
The H-2A program, which allows foreign agricultural workers to work legally in the U.S. for months at a time, is critical to Georgia’s agricultural industry. Year after year, employers in the state hire one of the highest total numbers of H-2A workers in the country. According to Dr. Cesar Escalante, a professor in the University of Georgia’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, says Georgia accepts a disproportionate number of H-2A workers compared to other, larger states because it has few sources of domestic farm workers.