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Sen. Ossoff Gets Results from Inquiry to Protect Migrant Farmworkers from Human Rights Abuses

Following Sen. Ossoff’s inquiry, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor each committed to processes to reform the H-2A Visa Program 

Sen. Ossoff secures key commitment from Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to come to Georgia and inspect migrant farmworkers’ working conditions 

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is continuing his push to protect farmworkers in Georgia from human rights abuses and human trafficking.  

Sen. Ossoff secured results from his inquiry asking three Federal agencies to reform the H-2A visa program in response to the Operation Blooming Onion investigation, which uncovered serious human rights abuses and poor labor conditions in Georgia stemming from power abuses by labor contractors who misuse the H-2A visa program. 

Sen. Ossoff secured a commitment from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reform H-2A visa program rules, “with a focus on addressing aspects of the program that may result in the exploitation.” 

Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh committed to join Sen. Ossoff in Georgia to inspect working conditions for farmworkers under the H-2A visa program. 

The Department of Labor also committed to continue reviewing potential rule changes to the H-2A program and provide further guidance. 

In March, Sen. Ossoff launched an inquiry calling on the Biden Administration to undertake a full review of the H-2A visa program to ensure farmworkers are protected from abuses that result in modern-day slavery. 

Sen. Ossoff continues to champion human rights in Georgia and across the country by pledging to continue pressing the Biden Administration for further details on potential reforms to the H-2A visa program, ensuring that all people receive the dignity and respect they deserve. 

“Farmworkers play a critical role sustaining our nation’s food supply, yet they remain subject to exploitation and abuse through the H-2A visa program and the criminals across the country that fraudulently utilize it to enrich themselves and to deprive guest workers of basic human rights. We must act now to protect the human rights of all people on our soil,” Sen. Ossoff wrote in his inquiry to the agencies. 

Operation Blooming Onion found immigrant farmworkers were forced to withstand unsafe, inhumane, and dangerous living and working conditions under fear of deportation.  

In some cases, workers in Georgia were paid only 20 cents per bucket harvested — while being threatened with violence and deportation. 

According to the indictment, workers were held in fenced-in work camps with little or no food, limited plumbing, and no safe water. 

Please find the Department’s responses to Sen. Ossoff’s inquiry below. 

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Labor

Department of State

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