Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More on immigration and rural America

This time the story is out of Wyoming and it involves sheepherders.  Here's an excerpt from NPR's report, "Immigration Bill May Keep Wage Exemption for Foreign Herders," by Sara Hossaini.
Peruvian shepherds on guest worker visas tend thousands of sheep in Wyoming, but they only make about half of what agricultural workers elsewhere are paid. 
Under the U.S. Senate's newest immigration proposal, these guest workers would receive a special exemption from minimum wage rules. The proposal has stirred disagreements between ranch owners and workers' rights advocates.
The story notes that the farmers featured, the O'Tooles on the Colorado-Wyoming border, pay about $750/month to their foreign ranch hands, who are on H-2A guest worker visas.  The ranch hands' living and working conditions sound abysmal, even abusive.

Once again, we have a story noting that local folks in rural areas don't want these jobs:
"There's not a lot of inquiry from the local community," says [Heather Ondo, a former ranch inspector in Wyoming]. "Most people don't want to go to work seven days a week, for 24 hours a day, for $750 a month."
Other stories reporting this phenomenon are here and here.

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