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It’s no secret that recruiting guest workers can be a shady business. Often, the fraud and extortion that guest workers face are blamed on a few bad apple recruiters, who are targeted by criminal regulation that almost never works. But the problems are bigger than bad apples. Structural forces encourage abuse, from the subcontracting common in guest worker recruitment schemes to cost pressures from global competition.

The process is best understood as a human supply chain, into which low wage workers are often fed. Reframing labor migration in this way helps us integrate it into our ideas of global supply networks. It also helps us fix some of the problems, by placing blame on actors high up in the supply chain.

The discussion will be moderated by Irene Bloemraad of the UC Berkeley Sociology Department and Chris Zepeda-Millán of the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Department.

This event is cosponsored by the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Inititative and the Ethnic Studies Department.

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Tuesday, March 13, 4:00 pm
2521 Channing Way
Please join us for a reception after the talk.

Jennifer is the author of Suburban Sweatshops: The Fight for Immigrant Rights. Read her thoughts on guest worker programs, “sweatshop diplomacy,” and voting rights for non-citizen immigrants.


Jennifer Gordon is a professor of law at Fordham University. She earned a MacArthur Fellowship Genius Award for her work as founder and director of the Workplace Project, a nonprofit that organizes Latino immigrant workers. At the Workplace project, she built a legal clinic for workers and fought to make New York’s wage enforcement law the strongest in the country.


Irene Bloemraad is a professor of sociology at UC Berkeley, where she directs the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative. She studies immigrants, their participation in political bodies, and their impacts on politics.




Chris Zepeda-Millán is a professor of ethnic studies and Chicano/Latino studies at UC Berkeley. He researches social movements, immigration, public opinion, and racial politics, and he’s the author of Latino Mass Mobilization: Immigration, Racialization, and Activism.