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Probe finds FBI not biased against Trump; yes, commuting is stressful; church uses nativity scene for statement on treatment of migrants; report says NY could add cost of carbon to electricity prices with little consumer impact; and a way to add mental health services for rural areas.

2020Talks - December 10, 2019 


Today's human rights day, and candidates this cycle talk a lot about what constitutes a human right. Some say gun violence and access to reproductive health care and abortions are human rights issues.

Guest Worker Visa Program Comes Under Fire in South Dakota

February 8, 2008

Pierre, SD – South Dakota labor groups say a foreign guest worker program is being abused in the 'Mount Rushmore State.' The H2B visa was intended to help American companies temporarily fill jobs with immigrant workers during special circumstances such as a shortage of local labor.

However, Mark Anderson with the South Dakota Federation of Labor says the program is actually displacing South Dakota workers who can't afford to work for the low wages employers are paying foreign workers hired under the H2B visa program. He says workers on H2B visas are supposed to return home if they lose their jobs, but that's not actually happening.

"What is really happening is the people coming in on H2B visas can be here for three years. But once they're here, they just keep moving around the country to other employers and different jobs. It's much easier than climbing a fence and, quite frankly, these people enter the country legally. And I'm sure by the time that they've been here that long, nobody has any idea where they are."

Anderson explains most of the jobs on H2B visas in South Dakota are paid at levels comparable to or even less than 1982 wages. He argues the visa program is creating another category of underpaid workers in the United States.

"They are being exploited and used to keep wages down all over the country. This is a federal program so we have to work on a federal level to get the number of H2B visas issued down to nothing. And then we're going to have to start paying people decent wages to do the work."

Employers say the program is necessary to cover jobs that go unfilled by South Dakota workers, but Anderson argues that South Dakota workers would accept those positions if they were paid livable wages. He says state legislation asking employers to boost wages for immigrants working on H2B visas was killed recently on a party-line vote in a legislative committee.

David Law/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - SD