On a strong 260-165 vote, the House passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and modernize the H-2A guestworker program. Lead sponsor Rep. Zoe Lofgren said that although action in the Republican-controlled Senate is not certain, “there is an interest” in assuring a reliable farm workforce.
The House will vote soon on a bipartisan bill to provide legal status to undocumented farmworkers and to modernize the H-2A agricultural guestworker program — the first agricultural labor reform bill in three decades, said sponsor Rep. Zoe Lofgren.
Dozens of farm groups stood with 44 lawmakers — one-tenth of the U.S. House membership — on Wednesday in support of bipartisan legislation to provide legal status to undocumented farmworkers and to modernize the H-2A agricultural guestworker program. Lead sponsor Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, said “we have hope” of moving the bill quickly as a show of comity in a polarized Congress.
For years, farmers and ranchers were required to advertise in newspapers for American workers before they were allowed to hire seasonal workers from other nations. Effective Oct. 21, employers can post job openings on a Labor Department site — SeasonalJobs.dol.gov — and dispense with printed advertisements.
The Labor Department on Monday proposed mandatory electronic filing of job orders and applications for the H-2A agricultural guest worker program, and would change the methods used to determine pay rates for the seasonal workers. Growers have relied increasingly on the guest worker program in …
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.
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.