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Report: Local Crab Picking Houses Relying More On Immigrant Women

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By Kavitha Cardoza

Eastern Shore crab picking houses are increasingly relying on immigrant women who are often forced to pay foreign recruiters for low-paying jobs in isolated rural areas, that's according to a report by American University and an immigrant rights group.

Jayesh Rathod, who co authored the report, says there needs to be changes to the visa program used by the workers. He says the visa program currently ties the women to the job for which they were recruited and does not allow them to work elsewhere. He says that arrangement makes them reluctant to speak out against poor working conditions.

"There was no formal training on how to do their job safely and effectively," he says. "The women are working, breaking open crabs, they are using sharp knives. So some receive cuts, others receive bad allergic reactions..even receive infection from some of the sea water that they come in contact with."

But federal immigration officials are defending the program, saying it's run professionally and fairly, and contains protections for workers.

American University holds the license for WAMU 88.5 FM.

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