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WA Farmers and Laborers are Struggling Under the H-2A Guest Worker Program — and it May Get Worse

Farms in the state are part of the fourth largest guest worker program in the nation, but growers say they can't keep up with the costs and advocates say local workers are being left behind. 

September 3, 2019

Washington farmers rely increasingly on the H-2A program, which brings in temporary foreign agricultural workers to help alleviate the domestic labor shortage. Juan Jose Calleros is one of approximately 20,000 such migrant laborers who will work on Washington farms this year.

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Lilly Fowler

Lilly Fowler is Crosscut's staff reporter. Lilly was born in Mexico and raised in Nogales, a small border town. Before joining Crosscut, she worked as a producer for the national program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, PBS. Lilly has also worked as a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and FairWarning, an investigative news organization launched by former Los Angeles Times reporters. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic,, Slate Magazine, Marketplace and other media outlets. You can email her at or find her on twitter at @LillyAFowler. 

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Jen Dev

Jen Dev is a video producer at Crosscut and KCTS 9 focusing on race and immigration issues. She was born in Italy and raised on three continents before finding a second home in Seattle. Prior to Crosscut, Jen worked with nonprofits, news organizations and higher ed institutions including Columbia University, Italian newspaper La Stampa and Google News Lab startup First Draft News. 

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