The Moral Burdens of Temporary Farmwork
Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics (Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett & Mark Budolfson eds., Forthcoming).
41 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2017 Last revised: 27 Oct 2017
Date Written: September 30, 2016
Agricultural guest worker programs are typically justified on the ground that they enable host countries to cheaply meet their labor needs while offering nonresidents access to higher wages than in their home countries. But to participate in the programs, guest workers must temporarily sever personal and political ties to then come to a new country and either not establish new relations or rupture the new ones when their work authorization expires. Not only is this a burden for the workers — especially since many nonresidents perform repeated tours of guest work — but the programs also risk depleting associational life in major sending countries. This contribution argues that adopting such programs to avoid having to perform as much farmwork, or to avoid the (perceived) costs of permanent immigration, treats guest workers’ interests in associational life as less valuable than the like interests of host-country residents. Thus, even if the programs could ensure decent pay and safe working conditions, the programs’ effect on nonresidents’ associational ties provides a distinctive and compelling reason to cease such programs under their current formulation and create a path to citizenship for guest workers.
Keywords: guest workers, agriculture, egalitarianism, immigration, association
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