Sarbanand Farms | KNKX

Sarbanand Farms

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

More than 18,000 foreign workers, most of them from Mexico, traveled legally to Washington last year to labor on the state's farms, largely in the apple, pear, and cherry industries.

Recent high-profile lawsuits have thrust the state into a debate about the benefits and shortcomings of the H-2A visa program, which allows farmers to import temporary workers from other countries to make up for labor shortages at home.

Will James / KNKX

Legal temporary farmworkers are the "most vulnerable" agricultural workers in the country, an advocate said Thursday, describing them as having fewer rights than undocumented immigrants. 

Courtesy of Community to Community

Dozens of blueberry pickers in Whatcom County are protesting their working conditions after one of their colleagues fell ill and died.

About 70 workers at Sarbanand Farms, near the Canadian border in Sumas, walked off the job last week in protest, according to advocates helping the workers.