Farmworkers Chronology

1898: The United States invaded Puerto Rico as a result of the Spanish American War

1900: First Puerto Rican migrants arrived in Hawaii

1917: U.S. government grants U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans

1918: The U.S. Employment Service (USES) recruits for the first time Puerto Ricans to work in U.S. agriculture.

1947: The government of Puerto Rico enacts Public Law 89 restricting private labor recruitment, and Public Law 89 creating the Bureau of Employment and Migration. The Puerto Rico Department of Labor established the Farm Labor Program (FLP).

1949: USES Director Robert Goodwin and Puerto Rico Secretary of Fernando Sierra Berdecía signed an agreement for giving preference to Puerto Rican migrant farmworkers over Mexican braceros and other guestworkers

1950: The U.S. government extends the Wagner-Peyser Act to Puerto Rico, including the local government in the interexchange labor system. The U.S. Department of Labor sends job orders for agricultural jobs to Puerto Rico before allowing guest workers with visas. The government of Puerto Rico renamed Bureau of Employment and Migration as the Bureau of Employment Security. Its employment services became part of the U.S. Employment Services.

1952: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 establishes the H-2 visa program in which all domestic workers, including Puerto Ricans, have preference over guestworkers.

1966: Farmworkers protest discrimination and segregation in the town of North Collins, New York

1973: Activists and migrant workers organized the Agricultural Workers Association (ATA) in Connecticut.

 1976: Apple growers refused to hire Puerto Rican workers. The courts ruled that Puerto Rican workers are not available because the government of Puerto Rico’s labor recruitment requirements and its farm labor contract are a burden to growers.

1979: The Agricultural Workers Support Committee (CATA) is established in Southern New Jersey.

1989: The government of Puerto Rico transfers the Farm Labor Program to the newly created Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States (DPRCA).

1993: The Roselló González Administration of Puerto Rico abolished the DPRCA and eliminated the FLP.