The Labor Department said it had strengthened worker protections in the agricultural guestworker program in two regulations announced on Thursday. One applies to the H-2A program and will take effect on Nov. 14. The other involves temporary labor certification under H-2A and will appear in the Federal Register next week.
The Democrat-controlled House put a bill giving legal status to undocumented farmworkers and streamlining the H-2A guestworker program on the legislative fast track on Tuesday. Party leaders hope to score a victory this week on a popular idea — an earlier version of the bill passed with bipartisan backing in 2019 — even as support for comprehensive immigration reform is lacking.
The House will vote on two popular proposals for immigration reform this week, offering a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers and offering legal status to undocumented farmworkers, said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The ag labor bill would also streamline the H-2A visa for guestworkers.
Rebuffed by the Senate last year, two U.S. representatives on Wednesday reintroduced their bipartisan bill to create legal status for undocumented farmworkers and to streamline the H-2A visa program for guestworkers.
The USDA will have to go ahead with its semiannual survey of farmworker wages under a ruling issued Wednesday by a U.S. district court judge. Farmworker advocates say the Trump administration, by attempting to abandon the survey, is trying to depress farm wages.
Farmworker advocates fear the USDA’s decision last month to cancel the Farm Labor Survey is a step toward dismantling the already modest protections for agricultural guestworkers under the H-2A visa program in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.(No paywall)
Despite strong and bipartisan House support for farm labor reform, President Trump is unlikely to sign a reform bill, now stalled in the Senate, if it reaches him, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
Six weeks after sponsors unveiled their plan, the House is scheduled to vote on a bipartisan bill to provide legal status to undocumented farmworkers and to modernize the H-2A guestworker program. If passed, the bill has an uncertain future, with impeachment dominating the congressional agenda and the Republican-run Senate blockading legislation from the Democratic-controlled House.
President Trump proposed a “points-based” system on Thursday that would put younger, highly trained, and well-paid workers at the front of the line for legal immigration to the United States. The plan was silent on agricultural labor, but farm groups hope to be part of “a broader dialogue” on immigration.
Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate unveiled bills on Thursday that would give undocumented farmworkers “blue card” status, allowing them to work legally in the United States and gain the chance to become permanent residents, with an eventual path to citizenship. (No paywall)
House Republican leaders promised a vote this month on creating a new agricultural guestworker program. But it now appears that vote may be delayed, in part due to inter-party squabbling over more comprehensive immigration reform.
The chairmen of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees unveiled an immigration bill on Tuesday that “addresses the four pillars for immigration reform outlined by President Trump.” Unlike an earlier version, though, it does not create a new, year-round H-2C visa for farmworkers.
The electoral circuitry to revive the Republican-written House farm bill this week looks like the mechanism of a Rube Goldberg machine. Republican leaders plan floor votes on two immigration bills, neither certain of passage, to generate support among hardline conservatives for the farm bill. A close vote is expected, just like the roll call that sank the bill a month ago.
House Republican leaders say they will call votes next week on two immigration bills dealing with so-called Dreamers. The bill favored by conservatives would create, as a sidelight, a new, year-round H-2C visa program for farmworkers.
With immigration legislation stalled in Congress, four members of President Trump’s cabinet said on Thursday that they will modernize the H-2A guestworker program for agricultural labor.
Acceding to demands by conservatives, the House will take up the restrictive Goodlatte-McCaul immigration bill during the third week of June and then follow that with a new vote on the farm bill, said Majority Whip Steve Scalise on Monday.
The White House says it will propose a compromise on immigration built on four pillars: “Securing the border and closing legal loopholes; ending extended-family chain migration; canceling the visa lottery; and providing a permanent solution on DACA.” The announcement by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders left open the question of undocumented farmworkers.
The chairmen of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees unveiled a broad-scale immigration reform bill that might piggyback on a legislative resolution of the “dreamers” issue.
In announcing his retirement at the end of 2018, House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte said his goals in his final year in office include "bolstering enforcement of our immigration laws and reforming the legal immigration system." Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, is the sponsor of divisive legislation to create a year-round H-2C agricultural guestworker program to replace seasonal H-2A visas.