For the Farmworker community, the H2A program does not represent a benefit for farm workers, if not quite the opposite.

Media contact: Karl Kramer, Campaign Co-Director, San Francisco Living Wage Coalition
Phone: (415) 863-1225 office, (415) 509-9712 cell
July 8, 2022

For the Farmworker community, the H2A program does not represent a benefit for farm workers, if not quite the opposite.
The Dignity Campaign is a collective made up of organizations, nonprofit agencies, independent labor unions, community organizers, researchers, and advocates for the rights of Mexican migrant workers living in the United States.
We work from different areas defending and advocating for social justice with a focus on developing a fair immigration reform that humanizes the work of all migrant workers at the borders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
The binational movement of the survivors of 4.6 million Farmworkers and Indigenous Mexicans who participated in the Bracero program from 1942 to 1964, which under an agreement between the United States and Mexico was established to provide Farmworker labor in times of World War II, began in 1998. Thousands of grandparents and the widows and children of the deceased, demand the payment of the 10% of the salary that the United States deducted from their salary to create a savings fund which was supposed to be delivered to farmworkers at the end of their contract through Banco Banrural in Mexico. To date, the governments responsible for this historic fraud have not responded. The now survivors active in the Bracero movement, a community of grandfathers and grandmothers, a defenseless community, economically and physically vulnerable, are dying in the trenches of the struggle, burying their hope for justice and delivering a legacy of values for those who take on the task of asserting the right to live with dignity and respect.
The solidarity between the Dignity Collective Campaign  and the members of the Alianza de Ex Braceros del Norte 1942-1964 arises as a result of the lack of action on the part of both governments to respond to the demands for justice of the former braceros — who are dying day by day in the trenches of their binational social movement.
In the same way, we stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Indigenous Farmworkers of Oaxaca and Guerrero from Mixtec and Triqui communities who work the land in California, Oregon, and Washington,  and are members of the organization Familias Unidas por la Justicia.
For farmworkers living abroad, it is important to have a president who cares and advocates to defend and protect their rights and humanity– so that the sacrifice of arriving and surviving in the United States is worthwhile.
In a friendly study  led by Indigenous organizations, in collaboration with the California Institute of Rural Studies, you can verify some of the realities reported by the Indigenous Farmworker communities live today:
They don’t treat people well. There are many abuses in the workplace. The workers are the very important part, since they are the main ones at this time, they continue to work to feed the people. They are the most affected in working conditions, and poorly paid. They don’t pay well. The box of marqueta strawberries $1.90, one dollar and 90 cents, a box of 8 baskets [baskets]. Each box has to weigh 22 pounds, they pay $2.65 two dollars and 65 cents. Sometimes you don’t earn even the least in very heavy work.
— LAURA, 18 years old, Mixtec woman, Central Coast
It is difficult to work in this situation, but we have no choice but to continue. The job is very poorly paid. Garlic jars pay $2.50. It doesn’t come out, because we have to pay $9 raite every day. Also the care of the children, charges $20 dollars, very expensive. It doesn’t come out…
–BELÉN, 31 years old, Mixtec woman, San Joaquín Valley
We’ve had a hard time paying for car insurance, phone bills, internet, and everything else. There is very little help for us. Right now everything is expensive, the rent, the internet for our children. And many of these are emergencies.
–NAYELI, 27, Indigenous Woman, Central Coast
The cost of living is very high. We need you to provide more help for us essential workers. We run the risk of infecting our relatives and we still have to pay more. That’s not fair!
–HERMINIA, 57 years old, Indigenous woman, San Joaquin Valley
The Campesino community has been identified as essential workers, they risk their lives during the waves of COVID and yet they are excluded from many protections. Despite all this, they continue in their fight to move forward. Many of them have lived abroad for years in the hope of one day returning to their communities and reuniting with their families. There are members of the communities who have spent almost a lifetime without seeing their parents, grandfathers, grandmothers, sons, and daughters because they are on the other side of the border. This is time that will no longer recover.
In the analysis of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a union made up of farm workers of Mixteco and Triqui origin, as immigrants, have always been the target of authorities and racist comments that classify them as illegal. This makes them feel that politicians only see them and use their realities as another way to carry votes when they need it and then forget about them. The Farmworker community wants to determine their lives and not be used as pieces to advance agendas that are not favorable to them.
In this case, the proposal for the expansion of the neo-bracero program -now called- H2A. For the Farmworker community, the H2A program does not represent a benefit for farm workers, if not quite the opposite. The program is being implemented as an oppressive way to keep communities divided and exploited.
Agricultural companies, and agribusinesses, are displacing workers already established, forcing them to look for work outside of their communities. When workers try to organize to reach agreements that could improve their wages and working conditions, they are threatened with bringing in more guest workers (H2A Visa).
Cases like that of Honesto Silva Ibarra, who emigrated with an H2A visa and suffered complications caused by terrible working conditions and lack of medical care, died. Honesto Silva Ibarra left his wife and children in Mexico. He was only 28 years old. Their co-workers were going to be deported for protesting but the community came out to support them and after a long time, they won a legal case against their contractor and employer. The community was able to verify that there was a case of human trafficking.
Stories like Honesto’s, sadly, are very common and there is still no way to report or labor protection laws that could hold the authorities accountable. Because of this, and many of the research points mentioned in this letter, it is that we ask you: do not accede to the complicity of legalized slavery and stop the expansion of the H2A program. As an alternative solution, be an ambassador and advocate for family unification without ties that exploit Campesinos and Campesinas through a contractor and employer.
The H2A program is a program that has roots in neoliberalism, something the Mexican president constantly talks about, because it puts the interests of the dollar above everything else, above the right to live with dignity. By participating in the expansion of the H2A program, you are building a path for migrants that will lead them to fight for who does the most dangerous work, with the least rights and compensation. These are the foundations on which both presidents, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Joe Biden, are building their binational government and economy.
 We stand in solidarity with workers by elevating their voices:
“We are from communities in Guerrero and Oaxaca. Mixtec and Triquis peoples. We made a long and dangerous journey to reach the northern border to the United States. Mexicans abroad deserve more, and we know we will achieve it. We just want the President to be on our side and listen to us.”
Together in the struggle,
Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Karl Kramer, Campaign Co-Director, San Francisco Living Wage Coalition
Rosa Martha, The Alliance of Former Northern Braceros 1942-1964
In solidarity:
Dignity Campaign
2940 – 16th St. Ste. 301
San Francisco, CA 94103
San Francisco Living Wage Coalition
Alliance for Social and Economic Justice
Alianza de Ex Braceros del Norte
California Institute for Rural Studies
Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Graton Day Labor Center / ALMAS
Mujeres Inmigrantes e Indígenas del Condado de Sonoma
Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB)
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indigena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO)
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
MAiZ San José- Movimiento de Acción Inspirando Servicio
Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance
Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
Global Exchange
Red de Pueblos Trasnacionales

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