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Abstract

This article explores how precarious legal status circumscribes differential inclusion in the agricultural labor market and affects workers' lives through a comparative study of workplace health and safety among temporary migrant guest workers and immigrants in Canada. Original, multimethod research with South Asian immigrant and Mexican migrant farmworkers examines employment practices, working conditions, and health-care access. We find that both groups engage in precarious work, with consequences for their health and safety, including immigrant workers with citizenship. Nevertheless, migrant guest workers are subject to more coercive forms of labor discipline and a narrower range of social protection than immigrants. We argue that while formal citizenship can mitigate some dimensions of precariousness for farmworkers racialized as non-white, achieving a more just, safer food system will require broader policies to improve employer compliance and address legislative shortcomings that only weakly protect agricultural labor.