Student NameMaria Pulgar
Faculty Mentor NameEllen Martin
CollegeCollege of Liberal Arts and Science
MinorSoil and Water Sciences
Research InterestsWeathering, mineral separation, biotite weathering, isotopic radiation, water chemistry, rock chemistry
Academic AwardsCHISPAS Out of the Shadows Scholarship
OrganizationsAssociation of Women in Geoscience, Geoclubs
Hobbies and InterestsPainting, special effects makeup, tea, cats, coffee, drag queens

Research Project

Farmworker Exploitation: H-2A Guest Workers: An increase in vulnerability and displacement for both domestic and guest workers.

The H-2A Temporary Agriculture Program is one of the newest and increasingly utilized visa program intended to supplement insufficient domestic agricultural labor. The visa program allows agricultural employers to bring “nonimmigrant” foreign workers to perform farm labor for that particular season, lasting no longer than one year. The first condition of the program is that the employers exhaust all available domestic workers seeking employment and that there is a sufficient need for supplemental labor. The second condition is that H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages or working conditions of similarly employed domestic workers. On paper the H-2A visa program is a promising source of reliable supplemental labor, however, in practice, there are many discrepancies and gross violations that affect both foreign and domestic workers.

The impact of the H2-A visa on the state of Florida is undeniable. Florida leads the nation in H-2A worker positions certified by the Department of Labor. In the fiscal year 2017, the state had 15.9 percent of the total 97,285, topping Georgia (13.2 percent) and North Carolina (9.8 percent). The practical application of this program is that employers are opting to use foreign labor to increase their profits through grander demands and returns on the labor, while at the same time displacing established farmworker communities.

My research questions the practical impact of the H-2A visa program on the already vulnerable farmworker community. This community has been historically exploited and oppressed even into the 21st century often due to the varying legal statuses of the labor force. I will also analyze the vulnerability of the foreign workers being brought to complete this demanding labor. I hypothesize that the H-2A visa program causes a displacement in domestic workers and increases the risk of exploitation on both foreign and domestic workers in Florida. I will be using qualitative personal interviews in combination with historical and public policy research