January 15, 2016

State Department Officials Visit Yuma to Talk H-2A

Officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales, Mexico, met yesterday with Western Growers members in Yuma to seek ways to better serve the H-2A-user community. Participants from the Consulate, included: Consul General, Christopher Teal; Vice Consul, Leshawna Johnson; and Public Relations staffer, Erika Munoz Burgos. Western Growers Board Member Gary Pasquinelli hosted the lunch meeting at Pasquinelli Produce’s headquarters, which was kicked off by Western Growers Board Member Sonny Rodriguez of the Growers’ Company in Somerton, Arizona. H-2A producers, including Tanimura & Antle, several H-2A labor contractors and WG staff were at the table.

The meeting follows a smaller outreach meeting held early last month in Somerton with Rodriguez and representatives from the Nogales and Tijuana Consulates. The purpose of that meeting was to help the consulates better understand our challenges and assist our industry with timely H-2A visa processing.

Mr. Teal spoke of the critical role the consulates play in facilitating free trade between the U.S.’s third largest trade partner (Mexico) and Mexico’s largest trade partner (United States). He also acknowledged the growing importance of the H-2 program to producers in the U.S. and the employees who gain employment through the program.

Ms. Johnson encouraged H-2A users to notify the consulate as soon as visa processing dates are anticipated so staff can be better prepared for the influx of workers needing to be interviewed and processed. As it stands now, the Nogales Consulate is well prepared for the increased activity that takes place the first couple of weeks of November as H-2A workers gain clearance to work the Yuma winter vegetable harvest.

WG extends our gratitude and appreciation to the State Department for its continued engagement with the industry on this issue and for their efforts to seek information to better serve the H-2A-user community.

For more information, contact AnnaMarie Knorr at (602) 451-0658.