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.
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.
On Wednesday, in his latest threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump demanded that Congress “immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border.” The American Farm Bureau Federation asked that agricultural trade be exempted from any restrictions, and the National Farmers Union said a closure would be disastrous.
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)
Two House Republican leaders praised their party’s five-year farm bill on Wednesday as fruitful welfare reform that will get more people into the workforce. The House could vote on the bill as early as today.
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.
In the heart of Iowa's rural 4th district, Democratic hopeful J.D. Scholten is making a bid for conservative Republican Steve King's congressional seat, appealing to farmer interests to win support for his campaign, according to FERN's latest story, by Brian Barth, produced in collaboration with Mother Jones. (No paywall)