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No Man's LandJamaican Guestworkers in America and the Global History of Deportable Labor$
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Cindy Hahamovitch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691102689

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691102689.001.0001

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The Race to the Bottom

The Race to the Bottom

Making Wartime Temporary Worker Programs Permanent and Private

Chapter:
(p.86) Chapter Five The Race to the Bottom
Source:
No Man's Land
Author(s):

Cindy Hahamovitch

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691102689.003.0006

This chapter describes the guestworker situation in the postwar period. While many immigrants were barred from both sides of the Atlantic in the aftermath of the war, guestworker programs persisted, though the chapter primarily focuses on why the United States retained its wartime guestworker programs, particularly those in the agricultural sector. This chapter argues that farm labor scarcity was not the reason for this agricultural exceptionalism. Rather, the Mexican and Caribbean guestworker programs persisted after the war, not because there was a labor crisis in agriculture, but because farm employers had come to appreciate the certainty, flexibility, and authority that deportable workers afforded them. Employers of migrant and seasonal farmworkers—a tiny fraction of the nation's farmers—had become hooked on the nicotine of guestworkers. In addition, the chapter returns to the story of guestworker Leaford Williams, whose fragments of personal history have been thus far distributed throughout this volume.

Keywords:   postwar America, farm labor, Mexican guestworker programs, Caribbean guestworker programs, agricultural exceptionalism, farm employers, agriculture, Leaford Williams

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