Picked Apart: The Hidden Struggles of Migrant Worker Women in the Maryland Crab Industry

Jul 15, 2010
Every year, hundreds of Mexican women travel thousands of miles from their impoverished, rural home communities to work on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the state's historic crab industry. Maryland crab companies have increasingly come to rely on these women, who enter the U.S. on temporary guestworker visas known as H-2B visas. This report describes these women's experiences as H-2B migrant workers, and is the result of over 40 formal interviews conducted in both the U.S. and Mexico since 2008. By obtaining first-hand accounts from the workers, the report documents the forces and conditions that give rise to this specific population's decision to migrate; the processes and challenges involved in the recruitment process, and in obtaining documentation to travel to the U.S.; and the experience of living in Maryland and working in the crab industry. The research underlying this report reveals numerous challenges that migrant worker women face throughout the migration experience. Many of these challenges are linked to fundamental flaws with the H-2B program.
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