The Hispanic Affairs Project received from the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals the opinion in favor that recommend new regulations and the provision for a different immigration status in order to reduce the incidence of abuses, labor trafficking and other federal labor law violations in the sheep industry, not only in Colorado, but in the Country.
Through the voices of workers, former sheepherders and HAP, we demonstrate that for many years, thousands of migrant were excluded from critical protections worsens their already exploitative working conditions. Along this time, many workers suffered retaliation for asking better labor and living conditions.
Thanks to our migrant outreach team, community leaders, churches and partners, we are advancing labor and immigrant rights.Thanks to our Lawyer Dermot Lynch, and key allies as Toward Justice (http://www.towardsjustice.org/) who have helped with this case and who have now helped some of the most vulnerable farmworkers in the country.
The D.C. Circuit ruled that HAP’s challenge to the visa policies used for H-2A shepherds could go forward. As many of you know, H-2A shepherds work for years or decades on end on visas that Congress only allows for “temporary or seasonal” work. The H-2A visa is a very poor fit for the permanent work that the shepherds perform, especially when a visa for permanent work exists and would entitle the shepherds to apply for green cards for the decades-long and indispensable labor they provide to the American ranching industry. (Under the current H-2A system, the shepherds are only able to work for their rancher employers and have very little ability or leverage to demand better wages or working conditions).
This case is nearly three years in the making now, and this important victory for the shepherds is the product of dozens of clients, friends, and mentors who have supported this cause. Because of your support, the D.C. Circuit handily rejected all of the government’s non-merits arguments to the shepherds’ challenge and, for the first time squarely concluded that the shepherds could use the Administrative Procedure Act to challenge what amount to unwritten policies by the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor that allow ranchers to hire shepherds in perpetuity as “temporary” workers.
For those who want to nerd out on the nuances of the Administrative Procedure Act and challenges to unwritten agency rules, here’s the opinion: Court DC 2018-08-17 H2A Opinion