Navigating Wage Regulations for Migrant Workers: A Legal Perspective

The landscape of immigration law is continuously evolving, presenting new challenges and opportunities for those navigating this complex field. A recent development, as reported by Irene Spezzamonte in Law360, brings into focus a pivotal case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: Torres Hernandez et al. v. Su et al. This case sheds light on crucial wage regulation issues for migrant workers and highlights the indispensable role of experienced immigration attorneys in advocating for fair labor practices.

The Case at a Glance

Familias Unidas por la Justicia AFL-CIO and co-plaintiff Ramon Torres Hernandez have urged the Ninth Circuit to expedite a decision regarding the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) wage requirements for foreign harvest workers. The crux of the dispute lies in whether employers should pay these workers the higher prevailing wage instead of the lower adverse effect wage rate (AEWR).

The Argument for Higher Wages

The plaintiffs assert that federal law unambiguously mandates employers to offer the higher of the AEWR or the prevailing wage as a condition for importing foreign workers. The prevailing wage, reflecting the most common unit of payment for specific crop activities, contrasts with the AEWR, which is based on average farm wages across the state.

Urgency and Potential Impact

Emphasizing the urgency, the union and Hernandez highlight the risk of irreparable harm to farmworkers if the decision is delayed. With employers in Washington already filing job orders for the 2023 harvest season, a prompt decision is crucial to prevent another season where workers' protections remain unenforced.

Legal Teams and Representation

The legal representation in this case includes teams from Columbia Legal Services, Farmworker Justice, Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP, and Edward Tuddenham for the plaintiffs, while the DOL and Washington State Employment Security Department are represented by the U.S. Department of Justice and the state Attorney General's Office.

The Significance for Immigration Law

This case is more than a wage dispute; it's a testament to the ongoing challenges faced by migrant workers in the U.S. The outcome could set a precedent impacting the livelihoods of foreign harvest workers and the broader agricultural labor market. It underscores the importance of legal expertise in navigating immigration and labor laws.

Our Commitment to Migrant Workers

As an immigration law firm led by a seasoned immigration attorney and former immigration officer, we are committed to advocating for the rights and fair treatment of migrant workers. Our expertise spans the full spectrum of immigration law, providing invaluable guidance and representation to both employers and individuals.


The Torres Hernandez et al. v. Su et al. case is a critical juncture in immigration law, underscoring the complex interplay between labor rights and immigration policies. Our firm remains dedicated to providing expert legal support to those facing these intricate legal challenges.


Spezzamonte, Irene. "Worker, Union Urge 9th Circ. To Expedite Migrant Wage Ruling." Law360, 8 Dec. 2023.


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