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Fri Sep 6, 2019, 04:21 AM

Missouri's H-2A Housing Inspections Missed Deficiencies For Years

Missouri’s process of inspecting migrant farmworkers’ housing is riddled with holes and easily abused, according to interviews and documents obtained by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and the Columbia Missourian.

Last summer, the process led to an incident where more than 100 farmworkers who were in the U.S. legally on H-2A visas were forced to live in horrid conditions, work on empty stomachs and endure threats.

H-2A workers’ temporary legal status carries the promise of adequate housing, which the federal government leaves up to the states to ensure. But the inspection process, which all states are supposed to follow, doesn’t cover every place H-2A workers live and relies too much on the word of employers, who face little to no punishment for violations. And, in Missouri, the process has missed deficiencies for years that left workers in unsanitary housing.

The U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees the H-2A program, investigated the incident last summer in Kennett, Missouri, eventually suing the workers’ employer.


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