To the United States Congress
Reform federal laws to better protect unauthorized immigrant farmworkers
from sexual violence and harassment:
- Pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act
(VAWA) reauthorization bill (S. 1925) or similar legislation that
strengthens the U visa and other protections for immigrant victims of
domestic and sexual violence, including farmworker women and girls.
However, because more protections are needed, also pass legislation that:
- Removes the arbitrary caps on the number of U and T visas
available for immigrant victims of serious crimes.
- Allows immigrant victims to present secondary evidence
that they have been helpful in the investigation of the crimes against
them, in lieu of law enforcement certification, for U visas.
- Allows immigrant witnesses who are helpful in the
investigation of serious crimes, such as sexual violence, to be eligible
for legal status similar to that conferred by the U visa.
Reform immigration law to reduce the vulnerability of farmworkers to sexual
violence and sexual harassment, as well as other abuses:
- Enact legislation that creates a program of earned
legalization for the unauthorized farmworkers already in the US.
- Enact reforms that better protect migrant workers entering
the US on guestworker visas from workplace abuses:
- Eliminate worker dependency on abusive employers by
making visas portable between employers, with a grace period in which
workers can find new employment if their current job ends for any reason.
- Protect guestworkers from discrimination during recruitment on the basis of
race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability, in
accordance with anti-discrimination laws applied to other workers in the
Include guestworkers in
protections under the Seasonal and Migrant Agricultural Worker Protection
Act, as well as the National Labor Relations Act.
- Create a path to permanent resident status for
guestworkers and family members who have been in the US for a set period
Reform or repeal federal laws that dissuade agricultural workers, both
authorized and unauthorized, from reporting workplace sexual violence, sexual harassment,
and other abuses:
- Enact legislation to ensure equality of remedies for all
workers who suffer workplace violations or seek to enforce workers’
rights, regardless of immigration status, and thereby rectify the Supreme
Court’s decision in Hoffman Plastic.
- Revise the caps on damages available under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to keep pace with inflation and to provide a
sufficient deterrent to unscrupulous or irresponsible employers.
Eliminate the exclusion of
farmworkers from the National Labor Relations Act and acknowledge that,
like all other workers, they have the right to collective bargaining.
- Amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to:
- Give agricultural workers the right to overtime pay,
ensure payment of the minimum wage, and cover small farms, in keeping
with the protections available to workers in most other industries;
- Apply the same age and hour requirements to children
working for hire in agriculture as already apply to all other working
- Set or raise the minimum age for agricultural work to at
least 14, with the sole exception being children working on farms owned
and operated by their parents.
- Halt yearly approval of a rider exempting almost all farms
with 10 or fewer employees from the jurisdiction of OSHA.
- Eliminate restrictions on the ability of organizations
funded by the Legal Services Corporation to represent unauthorized farmworkers.
To the US Department of Homeland Security
- Repeal programs such as Secure Communities which require
or encourage local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
- Screen immigrants arrested in enforcement actions for
eligibility for U and T visas, and ensure that appropriate prosecutorial
discretion policies, as outlined in Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) memoranda, are applied to them.
Ensure consistent, accurate
application of U visa laws and regulations by local law enforcement
agencies by disseminating information on the specific legal requirements
for U visa certification and the role played by certifying law enforcement
Issue a directive to all
ICE field offices to abide by the terms of Operating Instruction 287.3,
which requires agents to determine whether employers or others have
supplied information about unauthorized workers in an effort to interfere
with their workplace rights, and ensure all agents and local law
enforcement agents involved in immigration enforcement are trained on the
use of the Operating Instruction.
To the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Continue outreach and prioritization of services to
low-income immigrant victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment,
including those in rural areas.
- Eliminate unnecessary delays in processing claims, and
ensure investigators are trained to work with victims of sexual violence,
are aware of and responsive to cultural differences, and, wherever
possible, have appropriate language capacity.
To the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Increase agricultural workplace inspections, particularly
those targeting child labor and minimum wage violations, and increase
civil money and criminal penalties within the limits allowed by law to
improve compliance with relevant laws.
- Make referrals to the appropriate agencies when evidence
of sexual harassment is encountered during an investigation, and
promulgate regulations and remedies related to sexual harassment as an
occupational health and safety issue.
- Make use of the joint-employer concept under the Migrant
and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to hold growers
responsible along with farm labor contractors for providing farmworkers
protections under the AWPA.
- Make use of the “hot-goods” provision of the
Fair Labor Standards Act to allow courts to issue emergency orders barring
companies from shipping or selling goods produced by improperly paid
- Vigorously enforce OSHA’s Field Sanitation Standard,
which requires employers to provide workers with drinking water, toilets,
and hand-washing facilities.
To All State Governments
- Ensure that state laws provide farmworkers adequate
protection from sexual harassment and other workplace abuses where federal
legislation fails to accomplish this.
- Enact comprehensive anti-sexual harassment laws if no such
laws currently exist, and, if they do exist, eliminate exemptions for
agricultural workers and ensure broader coverage of employers with
provision for remedies sufficient to deter employers from violating these
- Ensure that victim services, including services to address
the short- and long-term physical and psychological consequences of sexual
violence, are available and accessible for all victims, regardless of
immigration status, and that farmworker communities are made aware of
- Assess the linguistic needs of farmworker populations in
the state and, wherever possible, take steps to increase the capacity of
state labor agency staff to provide effective assistance to immigrant
farmworkers, including indigenous farmworkers who cannot communicate
effectively in English or Spanish.
- Refrain from passing immigration legislation similar to
Arizona’s SB 1070 or Alabama’s HB 56, which increase fears of
police and discourage reporting of crimes in immigrant communities.
To Local Law Enforcement Agencies
- Investigate vigorously all complaints of sexual violence
by immigrants, regardless of immigration status.
- Hire bilingual and culturally sensitive staff; do not call
upon federal immigration officers as interpreters.
Take all necessary and
appropriate steps to assure immigrant communities that unauthorized
immigrants who report crimes will not be reported to immigration
Undertake outreach to build
relationships with farmworker and immigrant communities.
- Ensure that the agency’s U visa certification
process is transparent and accessible to eligible immigrant victims of
To Agricultural Employers
- Create and enforce clear policies prohibiting sexual
harassment and abuse and accessible channels by which employees can safely
report sexual harassment and other workplace violations.
- Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate
trainings on sexual harassment and abuse, and, where possible, work with
farmworker advocacy organizations to create materials and conduct
- Investigate every reported instance of sexual violence or
harassment and take prompt, corrective action to remedy the problem.
- Contract only with licensed contractors who can
demonstrate that they are able to comply with worker protection laws and
create and enforce policies prohibiting sexual harassment.
To Agencies Providing Services for Victims of Sexual
Violence and Harassment
- Conduct culturally sensitive and linguistically
appropriate outreach to immigrant workers, including, wherever possible,
indigenous farmworkers who cannot communicate effectively in English or
- Advocate for additional resources to increase access by
rural immigrant workers to bilingual therapists.