Friday, May 10, 2013

Farm workers claim racial bias, say Mexican immigrants are getting the jobs

Farm workers, many of them African Americans, claim they can't get hired because the work is going to Mexican immigrants, reports Ethan Bronner for The New York Times. Several lawsuits have been filed, especially in Georgia, where American workers say they are paid less than Mexicans, and are treated much worse. (NYT photo by Grant Blankenship)

Sherry Tomason, who worked for seven years in onion fields in Georgia, before recently quitting and joining a federal lawsuit against Stanley Farms, told Bronner the company likes to hire "Mexicans because they are scared and will do anything they tell them to." In another suit, Americans say they were "fired because of their race and national origin, given less desirable jobs and provided with fewer work opportunities than Mexican guest workers."

Brian Stanley, an owner of Stanley Farms, said, "We have tried to fill our labor locally, but we couldn’t get enough workers, and that was hindering our growth. So we turned to the guest-worker program.” He argues that many Americans end up quitting because the work is too hard. J. Larry Stine, a lawyer for Stanley Farms said, “The farmers are not racist or against Americans. They have crops to be picked, and they see that domestics just don’t have their hearts in it.” (Read more)

The Senateimmigration bill has special concessions for illegal immigrants who are experienced farm or agriculture workers, making it easier for them to obtain a green card and move closer to citizenship, which we reported here.

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