Suit Against Grower Intensifies Guest-Worker Program Debate
A recent lawsuit against a San Diego County tomato grower, brought by California Rural Legal Assistance on behalf of legal immigrants who lost their jobs when the company decided to replace them with Mexican guest-workers, means that of the two California growers to make use of a congressional guest-worker program, both have now been sued. Passed as part of congressional immigration reform, the controversial program brings approximately 45,000 farm workers into the U.S. each year---primarily North Carolina and Florida--- ostensibly to fill labor shortages, but has drawn heavy fire from both growers and workers? rights groups. While the growers argue that the program is too bureaucratic and encourages lawsuits against employers who are trying to cope with labor shortages, groups like the Farmworker Justice Fund have countered that employers are simply trying to replace legal immigrants with cheaper and more easily exploitable guest-worker labor.