A grand jury in Greensboro last week handed down a 41 count indictment against the owner and operator of a firm that brings in foreign workers for temporary agricultural and non-skilled jobs in North Carolina and around the Southeast. According to WRAL, the indictment charges Craig Stanford Eury and Sarah Farrell of International Labor Management Corp. with submitting fraudulent visa applications in an attempt to evade caps on the number of workers who can enter the country on H-2B visas and moving workers on agricultural H-2A visas into non-agricultural H-2B positions.
Much has been written about the problems with the H-2B and H-2B programs. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s seminal report, Close to Slavery, details the exploitation at the heart of a “guestworker” system which ties workers to a single employer and provides no way for them, many of whom leave families year after year to perform thankless work in the U.S., to ever create a permanent home here. The unfair treatment of U.S. workers who don’t get a fair shake at these jobs are described in Farmworker Justice’s No Way to Treat a Guest. Hopefully those messages will not get lost in stories about an indictment that focuses on sleight of hand tactics to game a system that is, at its core, patently unfair to the workers (immigrant and U.S. citizen workers alike) who just want to support themselves and their families.