WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered an “extensive and thorough review” of the State Department’s troubled Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, which every year brings more than 100,000 college students from around the world to fill low-wage seasonal jobs in the United States. That followed last summer’s protests by students working at a Hershey Co. warehouse in Pennsylvania that garnered worldwide attention.
Today, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) begins online publication of a four-day investigative series on the program. The report, “Cheap Labor as Cultural Exchange: The $100 Million Work Travel Industry,” is based on five months of reporting by CIS senior research fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist Jerry Kammer. It is online at: http://cis.org/cheap-labor-as-cultural-exchange-contents.
The series tells the story of the SWT program’s rapid growth over the past 15 years into a $100 million international industry that has spread around the globe. SWT is emblematic of a larger problem with the nation’s immigration system, where new programs are created and allowed to expand significantly without giving careful consideration to their impact on the labor market or the larger American society.
The past year has been particularly turbulent for SWT. When the State Department issued new regulations in the spring, it acknowledged that some sponsors were neglecting their duties and that the existing regulations “do not sufficiently protect national security interests, the Department’s reputation, and the health, safety and welfare of Summer Work Travel program participants.” In short, the program had been infected by many abuses, leaving some participants defrauded and allowing others to be recruited by organized crime or strip club owners.
In November, the State Department, which had long promoted expansion of the program around the world, announced a freeze on participants at the 2011 level of 103,000. Then came Secretary Clinton’s call for an internal investigation.
The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.
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