The Trump Administration appears adamant that large numbers of foreign farm workers will again be admitted this year, under the H-2A visa program, even in the face of the Wuhan virus (COVID-19) crisis. In addition, another 100,000 or so will be admitted under the H-2B seasonal non-agricultural program. The numbers from both programs add up to at least 350,000–all coming from countries whose public health systems are, at best, questionable.
As President Trump said on April 1:
We want the farmers to be able to get people that have been working those farms for years, or we’re not going to have farms. So they’re going to come in. And they’re going to be given a certain pass and we’re going to check them very, very closely [emphasis added]— especially over the next month, because remember after a month or so once this passes, we’re not going to have to be, hopefully, worried too much about the virus … I’ve given a commitment that they’re going to continue to come or we’re not going to have any farmers.
Note that the President promised that the migrants, most of whom will be from Mexico and Central America, would be tested “very, very closely” for signs of infection. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the plan, as pushed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
John Binder at Breitbart News is reporting today that, under the policy of expedited visa applications outlined by Pompeo, these H-2A and H-2B foreign workers will undergo only the existing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) screenings, which do not require testing for the virus. Only those showing symptoms will be referred to medical professionals, such as DHS medical contractors, the CDC, or local health authorities.
Binder quotes the Economic Policy Institute, whose experts warned on March 24 that “farmworkers already labor under what can sometimes be dangerous and unhealthy conditions, and now COVID-19 presents an additional challenge.” Those “dangerous and unhealthy conditions” include living and working in crammed spaces, where the social distancing guidelines expected of the rest of us are nearly impossible to follow.
As we noted yesterday in our post entitled “Progressives Push Stoop Labor over Mechanization,” the antiquated, labor-intensive model employed by large-scale American agriculture needs to change. It cannot be overhauled overnight but now is the time to begin promoting mechanization over the stooped-labor of imported foreign migrants. In the meantime, that “very, very close” checking the President promised should be followed. When most Americans are enduring unheard-of inconvenience and much worse, allowing more than a third of a million foreigners in without even basic health safeguards is unforgivable. To do so at a time when millions of Americans are newly jobless is simply staggering.
For more, see Breitbart News.
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