Attitudes and Opinions of Agricultural Growers in Texas Regarding Guest Worker Policy
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Purpose: This purpose of this research is to describe the attitudes and opinions of agricultural growers in Texas regarding guest worker policy. This research should give policy makers a better understanding of guest worker policy issues. In addition, it provides agricultural growers (key stakeholders in the process) opinions about what guest worker policy should look like, and what elements it should contain. The eighteen elements of guest worker policy identified in the scholarly literature were organized into six categories that include the hiring process, labor standards, enforcement, legal status, border security, and possible outcomes. Methods: To satisfy the research purpose, this paper used survey research. The elements identified in the scholarly literature were used to develop a framework that served as the basis for the survey instrument. Two hundred and forty-two agricultural growers throughout the state of Texas had the survey administered to them electronically. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the results. Findings: The results of this survey show that growers overwhelmingly support the idea of a guest worker in the United States program. In addition, most respondents supported shifting as many financial burdens away from growers as possible. For example, a majority of respondents favored guest workers paying for their own transportation and housing, and a majority of respondents opposed employers paying bonds to ensure guest workers returned to their home countries. Survey results also revealed that respondents do not believe there should be a limit on the number of guest workers brought into the United States each year nor do they believe employers should have to guarantee guest workers a minimum number of hours of work. Likewise, a majority of respondents do not believe guest worker policy should allow the spouses and children of guest workers to travel with them into the United States, nor do they believe guest worker families should be able to expedite their legalization process. In addition, 70% of respondents indicated that guest worker policy should allow illegal aliens current residing in the United States to be eligible to become guest workers without any legal reprisals. Finally, survey respondents overwhelmingly rejected the idea that implementing a guest worker program would depress the wages of U.S. workers, increase illegal immigration, lead to discrimination and exploitation of guest workers, or create an over reliance on foreign labor by employers.