From South Africa in the nineteenth century to Hong Kong today, nations around the world, including the United States, have turned to guestworker programs to manage migration. These temporary labor recruitment systems represented a state-brokered compromise between employers who wanted foreign workers and those who feared rising numbers of immigrants. Unlike immigrants, guestworkers couldn't settle, bring their families, or become citizens, and they had few rights. Indeed, instead of creating a manageable form of migration, guestworker programs created an especially vulnerable class of labor.
Based on a vast array of sources from U.S., Jamaican, and English archives, as well as interviews, No Man's Land tells the history of the American "H2" program, the world's second oldest guestworker program. Since World War II, the H2 program has brought hundreds of thousands of mostly Jamaican men to the United States to do some of the nation's dirtiest and most dangerous farmwork for some of its biggest and most powerful agricultural corporations, companies that had the power to import and deport workers from abroad. Jamaican guestworkers occupied a no man's land between nations, protected neither by their home government nor by the United States. The workers complained, went on strike, and sued their employers in class action lawsuits, but their protests had little impact because they could be repatriated and replaced in a matter of hours.
No Man's Land puts Jamaican guestworkers' experiences in the context of the global history of this fast-growing and perilous form of labor migration.
About the Author
Cindy Hahamovitch is the Class of 38 Professor of History at the College of William & Mary. She is an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, a Fulbright Fellow and the author of The Fruits of Their Labor: Atlantic Coast Farmworkers and the Making of Migrant Poverty, 1870-1945.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments ixAbbreviations xiIntroduction 1
Chapter One: Guestworkers of the World, Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Passport, Your Visa, Your Immigration Status 12Chapter Two: Everything but a Gun to Their Heads: The Politics of Labor Scarcity and the Birth of World War II Guestworker Programs 22Chapter Three:"Stir It Up": Jamaican Guestworkers in the Promised Land 50Chapter Four: John Bull Meets Jim Crow: Jamaican Guestworkers in the Wartime South 67Chapter Five: The Race to the Bottom: Making Wartime Temporary Worker Programs Permanent and Private 86Chapter Six: A Riotous Success: Guestworkers, "Illegal Immigrants," and the Promise of Managed Migration 110Chapter Seven: The Worst Job in the World: The Cuban Revolution, the War on Poverty, and the Secret Rebellion in Florida’s Cane Fields 135Chapter Eight: Takin’ It to the Courts: Legal Services, the UFW, and the Battle for the Worst Jobs in the World 172Chapter Nine: "For All Those Bending Years": IRCA, the Dog War, and the Campaign for Legal Status 202Chapter Ten: All the World’s a Workplace: Guestworkers at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century 227
Conclusion 236Notes 245Bibliography 295Index 323