Vineyard manager Chris Bowland went nearly 2,000 miles farther last year — to small villages in the Mexican state of Michoacan, where he recruited a dozen agricultural guest workers under a federal visa program called H-2A.
Bowland's first foray into the burgeoning foreign guest worker program helped set a record for California in 2017. Growers and contractors here recruited 14,252 foreign guest workers last year, the most they have hired in the program's modern history, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data.
California's recruitment of foreign laborers, virtually all of them from Mexico, grew by 3,121 workers, a 28-percent increase from the previous year, and nearly three times the national growth rate, according to the data analysis.
Since 2011, the state's recruitment of agricultural guest workers has grown sevenfold. California ranks fifth among states hiring foreign workers, with Georgia and North Carolina topping the list.
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