Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Flu slows visas for Mexican temporary farmworkers

Concern over the flu outbreak has led to a delay in visas for temporary agricultural workers from Mexico, reports Rosa Moore of the Todd County Standard in Elkton, Ky. This is a national story, reported by a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 2,300.

"Paperwork that allows visas for H-2A workers from Mexico to work for local tobacco farmers have been suspended until May 11 because of concerns over the swine flu (H1N1 virus)," Moore writes. She quotes Sarah Farrell, president of International Labor Management Corp. of Vass, N.C.: “The U.S. government has decided to close all U.S. consulate posts in Mexico until May 11 in response to the swine flu. Visa processing in its entirety has ceased, this includes tourist visas, H-2A and any type of work visas.” She said the delay could be extended beyond May 11.

A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman disputed Farrell's account, saying she had no readon to believe it was accurate, but the Standard reports: "However, according to information released by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, visa processing has been suspended until May 6, but Farrell told the Standard Tuesday that the deadline had been extended to May 11."

Moore's story offers an ideal blend of local and national information: "Although the U.S.-Mexican border is technically not closed, Todd County farmers say it seems that way to them." It comes at a bad time for tobacco farmers like Ronald Stokes, who need to transplant seedlings now. "Stokes ... said he’s trying to set tobacco and doesn’t have any help," Moore writes. "He said he was expecting 10 workers. Stokes said he’s getting what he needs to do done because he and the one worker are working to midnight or later." (Read more)

1 comment:

Kent Flanagan, aka Punster, said...

I agree that the Todd County Standard's Rosa Moore did an excellent job of digging for the facts in this story. Would that major metro papers could match the reporting of a a weekly paper when covering issues of national security. Congratulations to Ms. Moore for a job well done.

Kent Flanagan
Journalist in Residence
Middle Tennessee State University