Celestina’s H2A Visa Program Story
One of the most inspiring parts of CIERTO’s work with the H2A visa program is the opportunity to learn the stories of amazing people like Celestina San Juan. You might already be familiar with Celestina from her participation in the Proyecto Periplo project #EllasHablan last year.
Her story shows that attention to H2A workers rights lets seasonal employees find a place for themselves. This security pays off for employers as well, since a more confident worker is able to focus more closely on their work.
Workers free from fraud, abuse, deception and forced labor, show productivity improvements. This is backed up by recent studies like this one from the Center for Business Research, and by the work of the International Labor Organization.
Celestina Enters the H2A Visa Program
Celestina has been coming to the US since she was just 12 years old. She would cross the border undocumented to work with her father. At this time, because she was undocumented and a minor, she didn’t earn much. Furthermore, she generally gave the money she was able to earn to her father and so was unable to save any for herself.
A few years later, Celestina learned about the H2A visa program. For the next 5 seasons she has been coming to the US with CIERTO. She chooses to work with us because our fair, ethical and transparent recruiting practices make her journey and her work experience safer. Our dedication to H2A workers rights has also helped her to earn the opportunity to grow in her job.
Ultimately, she feels that her voice is heard.
Thank God for this program… The conditions are better now because I earn more and I have more opportunities to help my family. We also have English classes or training for other activities. I like that we have visits from organizations that invite us to training on my rights or advice.
In addition she also notes that some companies do not hire women. But CIERTO gave her the opportunity to work and help her family.
Working with CIERTO Has a Powerful Impact on Worker Communities of Origin.
Migrant workers can earn exponentially more money by coming to the US than they are able to earn in their home country. They bring that additional income back home where they start businesses, hire local employees, make home improvements and upgrades, and send their kids to school.
Like other workers in the H2A visa program we’ve interviewed this year, Celestina’s experience reflects this.
I’ve been able to create employment for other people. I love my house. I built my house with the earnings from my work, and then was able to hire someone to build a porch to sit down and have meetings with my family, meals, to sit down and talk.
The benefits of the CIERTO H2A visa program are multi-generational. Besides providing a better education, Celestina has been able to purchase land for her children, and to help her parents out as well.
My parents helped me a lot and now I can help them by giving them money every month.
I feel happy and very grateful for all this.
Stories like Celestinas Show Why the Movement to Responsible Recruiting is Important.
Celestina was able to improve her own life, set her children up for a better future. Furthermore, she brought substantial investment back to her community. And she became a stronger contributor to her employers in the US.
It goes to show that when migrant workers in the food labor supply chain are protected, everyone benefits. Consumers know that their produce has been harvested by workers who feel safe and respected. Growers or employers’ businesses grow and thrive thanks to more dedicated, confident employees. It’s a win-win situation.
CIERTO is working with the Federal Government to recruit H-2A guest workers from Guatemala. Your farm may be eligible for a $500 per worker incentive to offset logistical costs related to this incentive.