migrant workerLast updated
A “migrant worker” is a person who relocates for an extended period for the purpose of employment, which is often seasonal and/or agricultural.
Migrant workers also find employment in industries such as construction or meatpacking, or as day laborers. Since many such jobs are low-paying and migrant workers may be undocumented, they are vulnerable to trafficking or exploitation.
Given their highly mobile lifestyle, demographic information about migrant workers can often be difficult to collect, and some migrant workers seek to maintain anonymity due to the precarious nature of immigration and labor in the US. In order to create an accurate profile of a migrant worker, it’s important to avoid oversimplifications or assumptions that all laborers face the same conditions. A single individual’s experience may be unlike that of anyone else.
To avoid potential harm coming to the individual either from the state or from those who may feel antagonized by their presence, it’s also important not to disclose identifiable information (e.g., last names, documentation status).
Migrant workers are referred to by various other terms, including “foreign workers,” “seasonal workers,” “guest workers,” or “temporary contractual workers,” though the first term may be othering and can insert a note of bias into any description of someone’s experience.
- Key Migration Terms (International Organization for Migration)
- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
- Migrant workers (Ethical Trading Initiative)
- The Migrant / Seasonal Farmworker (Migrant Clinicians Network)
- Migrant Workers (International Labour Organization)
- Labour migration: Guidance for journalists (International Labour Organization)
- Coverage of Migrant and Seasonal Workers (US Department of Labor)
A “migrant worker” is a person who moves to another country, often temporarily, for the purpose of seeking employment. Migrant workers are referred to by various other terms, including “foreign workers,” “seasonal workers,” “guest workers,” or “temporary contractual workers,” though the first term may be othering and can insert a note of bias into any description of someone’s experience.