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No Man's LandJamaican Guestworkers in America and the Global History of Deportable Labor$
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Cindy Hahamovitch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691102689

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691102689.001.0001

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date: 13 December 2017

“For All Those Bending Years”

“For All Those Bending Years”

IRCA, the Dog War, and the Campaign for Legal Status

Chapter:
(p.202) Chapter Nine “For All Those Bending Years”
Source:
No Man's Land
Author(s):

Cindy Hahamovitch

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691102689.003.0010

This chapter considers the developments of the 1980s for the Jamaican guestworkers. The decade brought guestworkers immigration reform legislation known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which promised permanent legal status for all “alien farmworkers.” It also brought a huge $51 million courtroom victory and unprecedented attention in newsprint, books, and on film. Yet the 1980s ended up being a decade of devastating disappointment. Cane cutters—and only cane cutters—were excluded from the congressional “amnesty” for immigrants; court appeals denied them the back wages awards they had won; and machines replaced them in the cane fields. For Jamaican guestworkers, the 1980s left the sort of bitter aftertaste that lasts a lifetime.

Keywords:   immigration reform legislation, IRCA, Immigration Reform and Control Act, 1980s, alien farmworkers, cane cutters

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