Stop Guestworker Expansion
by DCDave

It is not too late to stop the almost-secret massive expansion of the federal agricultural guestworker program. This is the provision sneaked into the Senate version of the appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice, and the State Department that would so liberalize the existing H-2A program for using foreign laborers that U.S. citizens will likely be virtually driven out of farm labor for perishable products. Farm labor income and working conditions would also greatly suffer and, perhaps worst of all, illegal immigration on a scale greater than anything we have yet seen would be induced.

The provision is not in the House version of the same appropriations bill so the differences are now being worked out in a conference committee. The conferees with their phone and fax numbers are listed below. A call to each of their offices on Friday revealed that their remains much to be done on the bill. This provision in particular is still being hashed out at the committee staff level, I am told, and has not yet been addressed by members and their staffs.

When calling the members' offices ask for the aide who handles either immigration or agriculture issues. I found the aides I was able to talk to receptive. The main points to make are first that nothing of such great significance should be handled in this way. No hearings have been conducted in either house and the measure has gone virtually unreported upon. It could not stand public scrutiny. Second, I believe, is the illegal immigration issue. Even Democrats, who might be more receptive to the labor-abuse angle, realize that they need Republican votes to win. Direct them to the web site of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. It stresses the illegal immigration angle, but it also links into the site of the California Rural Legal Assistance Fund, that stresses labor abuse. You might also refer them to the August 10, 1998, Washington Times article by Susan F. Martin, Director of the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University entitled, "Just What We Need, More Illegal Immigration." A readily available editorial from the St. Petersburg Times of July 26 entitled "The Farmworker Rip-off Act of 1998" is also online. You could copy that and fax it to them. The CRLAF site suggests other strategies as well.

Informing one's own Congressman and Senators of your concern would also be beneficial. The CRLAF site has phone numbers for all Members of Congress.

House-Senate conferees on the Commerce, Justice, and State Department appropriations bill:

NamePhone (202)Fax (202)


Harold Rogers 225-4601 225-0940
Jim Kolbe 225-2542 225-0378
Charles Taylor 225-6401 none
Ralph Regula 225-3876 225-3059
Michael Forbes 225-3826 225-3143
Tom Latham 225-5476 225-3301


Alan Mollohan 225-4172 225-7564
David Skaggs 225-2161 226-3806
Julian Dixon 225-7084 225-4091


Judd Gregg 224-3324 224-4952
Ted Stevens 224-3004 224-2354
Pete Domenici 224-6621 224-7371
Mitch McConnell 224-2541 224-2499
Tim Hutchinson 224-2353 228-3973
Ben Nighthorse Campbell 224-5852 224-1933


Ernest Hollings 224-6121 224-4293
Daniel Inouye 224-3934 224-6747
Dale Bumpers 224-4843 224-6435
Frank Lautenberg 224-4744 224-9707
Barbara Mikulski 224-4654 224-8858

David Martin
October 11, 1998

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