Employment immigration — women fired for hospital visit

The Louisiana economy thrives when both domestic and foreign workers are active members of the workforce. But while these workers are all necessary, they are not always treated the same. Those who are in the United States because of employment immigration sometimes face significant hurdles when they need help the most. For example, two women who were working at a crawfish farm on H-2B visas were fired after they sought medical care.

The women claim that they wanted to go to the hospital after they developed symptoms of a serious illness that was spreading among some of the other workers. Instead, their employer made them leave their regular employee housing — a typical arrangement with H-2B visas — and sent them to quarantine housing instead. The employer also threatened to call immigration authorities if they tried going to the hospital, and fired them when they actually did.

Situations like this are not particularly uncommon for workers with H-2B visas. This type of temporary employment visa only allows an immigrant to work at a specific company. If a worker loses his or her job, then there are no options for finding new employment. Employers often take advantage of this, providing substandard housing and unsafe working conditions.

Foreign workers who end up in these situations are faced with a difficult decision — complain and lose their jobs, or put up with substandard conditions. Getting a visa for employment immigration can be difficult, so many immigrants in Louisiana end up keeping quiet. This is not the only option, though. Understanding one’s rights as a foreign worker can be helpful for better understanding other options.