In an op-ed column in The Miami Herald, William and Mary professor Cindy Hahamovitch traces the history of landowners exploiting temporary agricultural workers in the United States for personal gain. These farm employers are currently calling for more temporary workers to be allowed into the country and they want fewer regulations on those workers. Hahamovitch points out the irony of the landowners condemning the current system, which is one they helped create and has allowed them to exploit foreign-born workers for decades.
She notes the push for changes in the law might be caused by the fact that President Obama is enforcing the rules more than previous presidents:
Most shocking of all: The regulatory system that agricultural employers complain so bitterly about did not function at all (until the current administration). Despite gross violations of H-2A rules in the 1990s, for example, the Labor Department cited only one company (for failing to pay minimum and overtime wages), and did not deny that company’s requests for more guestworkers. Indeed, the GAO reported in 1997 that 'the Department of Labor had never failed to approve an application to import H-2A workers because an employer had violated the legal rights of workers.'
Hahamovitch says the system should be made more fair by protecting workers' ability to collectively bargain, complain without fear of deportation, sue in federal courts, change employers when they choose and have a road map to citizenship.