Black Americans Sue U.S. Farms for Replacing Them with Foreign Workers: ‘It’s Like Being Robbed of Your Heritage

Black Americans who spent most of their lives working on Mississippi farms are suing their former employer after they were replaced by foreign workers on the H-2A visa program. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, accuses Pitts Farms of laying off a number of black Americans, only to replace them with foreign visa workers from South Africa. The H-2A visa program allows U.S. farms to annually outsource an unlimited number of American jobs to foreign workers who can extend their stay for up to three years. The foreign families of H-2A visa workers can also come to the U.S. on H-4 visas. In 1997, a little more than 16,000 foreign visa workers were imported to take American jobs on U.S. farms. By 2020, that number has ballooned to a record 213,400 foreign visa workers — an increase in the H-2A visa program of more than 1,200 percent in less than 25 years. Data shows U.S. farms use the H-2A visa program to import cheaper, foreign visa workers. In interviews with the New York Times, black Americans said they had spent most of their lives earning a living as farm workers at Pitts Farms.

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