Archival Science

, Volume 14, Issue 3–4, pp 345–363 | Cite as

Documenting and classifying labor: the effect of legal discourse on the treatment of H-2A workers

  • Patricia GarciaEmail author
Original Paper


The H-2A temporary agricultural worker program is a large-scale governmental program that is touted as a legal and documented avenue for nonimmigrant foreign workers to gain temporary employment in the USA. This paper historically situates the H-2A program within the larger history of American temporary work programs and argues that the H-2A program has inadequately curtailed the exploitation of temporary agricultural workers by focusing on documenting immigration through a lengthy application process and complex classification system, while failing to properly document the employment conditions of temporary agricultural workers once they have arrived in the USA. The analysis of the federal government’s documentation and classification practices exposes how discursive practices are legitimized through the legal codes of two statutory regimes, labor and immigration law, and exposes how these discursive practices create rigid worker classifications that largely structure the debate on immigration and the rights of documented and undocumented workers.


Government records Temporary workers Legal discourse H-2A Classification Documentation Workers’ rights 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information StudiesUniversity of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)Los AngelesUSA

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