Work Permits: Now and Then

Worker holds his helmet as he prepares to go to work.

If you know your U.S. history like the back of your hand, then it’s likely that you are familiar with The Bracero Program. The Bracero Program took effect in the states of California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon, where labor was needed the most. This was an especially controversial time in history, where people advocated for this opportunity, and others were not entirely for it. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Bracero Program, it can be seen as one of the earliest renditions of licensed work permits for immigrants. The Bracero Program came to an end after years of hard work, but one thing that never changed was the ability for immigrants to be able to work in the United States, despite their citizenship status. We touch on the specifics of the Bracero Program and how work permits are granted today. 

The Bracero Program 

The Benefits 

The Bracero Program was not only a feasible way to make more money but it also guaranteed laborers with protection, residence, and access to foods. These workers were also guaranteed that they would work, at the very least, three-fourths of their work contract. This ensured that they would not lose their jobs during the allotted time period. While Mexican and native workers were thriving from plentiful and cheap labor, they were able to better support their families who resided in poorer countries. 

The Downside of the Abundance of Cheap Labor 

Although The Bracero Program provided immigrants with quick labor to earn money, it wasn’t always easy. In fact, it was far from easy. These native laborers were forced to endure some of the harshest working conditions. Most of this labor was physical, therefore, these workers were more susceptible to problems regarding their physical makeup. Many of these workers, primarily Mexican nationals, were willing to arduous jobs at wages scorned by most Americans. 

Between the 1940s and the 1950s, farm wages dropped sharply as a percentage of manufacturing wages. Manufacturing wages had to be distributed out more amongst braceros and undocumented laborers. Due to this wage drop, they began to earn less money and lost some of their rights in American society. 

Out With the Bracero Program, In With Innovative Work Permits 

Much like The Bracero Program, work permits allow foreign nationals to work in the United States on a temporary basis. What sets them apart from older reforms of work opportunities is that they are also a gateway to permanent employment and residency in the United States. No matter what type of work visa you are seeking or may have already obtained, the benefits are, nonetheless, admirable. Rights and protections include:

  • The right to not be forced to work in a job against your will
  • The right to obtain your passport and identification documents in your possession
  • The right to report abusive working conditions without fear of retaliation or unscrupulous conditions
  • The right to request legal assistance from workers’ unions, labor rights organizations, and immigrants rights organizations
  • The right to have access to the U.S. judicial system to ensure the protection of your rights 

New and revised work opportunities for foreigners provide them with higher wages and improved working conditions in addition to their legal rights. With more jobs and work opportunities, immigrants get to enjoy the liberation of work permits without having to endure harsh conditions, as before. 

The Future for Temporary Foreign Workers 

It is estimated that 1.42 million temporary foreign workers were employed in the United States with nonimmigrant visas in the fiscal year of 2013, alone. This is approximately equal to one percent of the entire U.S. workforce. For organizations that aim to make more job opportunities to foreign workers, they are looking for ways in which they can develop a workforce that blends both global and local talent. Work visa reforms have been in the works since 2016 that way employers can look at all their options when seeking potential candidates, which especially includes immigrants. After all, foreign nationals are infamous when qualifying for hard-to-fill positions. 

Here to Help You Gain the Most of Out of a Work Permit 

While the U.S. visa system is in the works of speeding up the process of being granted a work permit, The Winterberg Law Firm, P.C. is here to help you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you land work opportunities and residency in the United States.

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