The Effects on U.S. Farm Workers of an Agricultural Guest Worker Program
Publication Date: April 2007
Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service
Guest worker programs are meant to assure employers (e.g., fruit, vegetable, and horticultural specialty growers) of an adequate supply of labor when and where it is needed while not adding permanent residents to the U.S. population. They include mechanisms, such as the H-2A program's labor certification process, intended to avoid adversely affecting the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. If amendment of the H-2A program or initiation of a new agricultural guest worker program led growers to employ many more aliens than is now the case, the effects of the Bracero program might be instructive: although the 1942-1964 Bracero program succeeded in expanding the farm labor supply, studies estimate that it also harmed domestic farm workers as measured by their reduced wages and employment. The magnitudes of these adverse effects might differ today depending upon how much the U.S. farm labor and product markets have changed over time, but their direction likely would be the same. This report will be updated as warranted.