2023 Excellence in Collaboration and Partnerships finalist

H2A Visa Worker Exploitation

About the Project

This joint investigation by Prism, Futuro Investigates, and Latino USA uncovered widespread exploitation of migrant workers who come to the United States through the government-sponsored H2A visa program. Anchored by the stories of Diego and Mario, who left their families in Mexico to harvest blueberries on a North Carolina farm, the series details how H2A workers are promised work opportunities, only to find themselves subject to human trafficking, wage theft, illegal recruitment fees, and inhumane conditions.

Comprised of a longform written investigative story, a two-part podcast series, a set of reporters’ notebooks offering behind-the-scenes insight into the two-year reporting process, and translated versions of the stories, this investigative series dove deep into an underreported issue and disrupted the narrative that the H-2A program is “mutually beneficial” for employers and workers. Based on records, interviews with workers and their families, and with government officials, this series tells a different kind of story about the program—one focused on the human cost of the lopsided agreements workers enter into with the U.S. government and U.S. employers out of economic desperation.