For the second time this summer, House Republican leaders backed creation of a new agricultural guest worker program, this time a three-year H-2C visa available for fish farms, dairy producers and meatpackers as well as crop farmers. Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington state applauded Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy "for their commitment to bring this to the floor" but the bill was not on the agenda for House action before the August recess.
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.
Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, sponsor of a bill that would give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and their families, says he will retire after 13 terms in the House.
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte tweaked his bill for a new year-round H-2C guestworker visa program but Democrats on the committee said the changes worsened a bill that greatly expands the range of jobs the foreign workers could fill. During a rancorous bill-drafting session, the Republican majority defeated on party-line votes Democratic amendments for higher pay for H-2C workers and to bar them from forestry jobs.
The United Farm Workers union likened legislation for a new guestworker program, scheduled for a vote today in the House Judiciary Committee, to the post-war bracero program in that it would "undermine the wages and working conditions of all agricultural workers." The bill, by Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte, will be considered at the same session as a bill to require all employers to use the E-Verify system to check if applicants can work legally.
The U.S. would scrap its much-criticized H-2A system of short-term visas for agricultural workers and replace it with an H-2C program that allows foreign laborers to stay in the country for up to three years under a bill filed by House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte. The bill also would allow those laborers, for the first time, to work in dairies and processing plants. The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday, at a moment when lawmakers want to resolve the issue of "dreamers," youths brought illegally into the U.S. by their parents.