immigration

Ag employers struggling to retain workers, says report

Foreign-born workers are an essential part of the U.S. food supply chain, and if the nation wants to stabilize food prices, it’s going to need a lot more of them, according to new research released this week by the American Immigration Council. The group, which advocates for immigrants throughout the U.S., found that ag employers are struggling to retain enough workers amid a national labor crisis that is fueling higher prices at grocery stores.

‘Build back’ bill offers work authorization for undocumented immigrants

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented farmworkers could gain employment and travel authorization under provisions in the social welfare and climate change bill drafted by House Democrats. But while the proposal would relieve fears of deportation, it was far less than the pathway to citizenship that is the goal of some activists.

Stronger protections needed for farmworkers as pandemic stretches into second year, argue researchers

Farmworkers face serious occupational risks that the pandemic has only exacerbated, and better policies are needed to protect them from exposure to heat, chemicals, and Covid-19, say two new related reports on social and health conditions in the sector.

To tax wealth, Biden would narrow ‘stepped-up basis’ loophole

President Biden proposed stricter application of capital gains taxes, potentially generating billions of dollars in federal revenue, on Wednesday by restricting use of the decades-old "stepped-up basis" that reduces liability on inherited property. Although the White House said it would not increase taxes on heirs who want to keep the family farm running, the largest U.S. farm group was skeptical that the protection could be fashioned into law.

Gonzales is named immigration adviser at USDA

President Biden appointed Oscar Gonzales, an advocate for social justice, as immigration reform adviser at USDA on Monday. Gonzales, who worked at USDA during the Obama years, also will serve as deputy chief of staff for operations and as assistant secretary for administration. “Oscar has …

House vote opens path to legal status for immigrant farmworkers

In a 247-174 vote, the Democrat-led House passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act on Thursday, which would provide a path to legal status for almost one million immigrant farmworkers and reform the existing H-2A visa program for agricultural workers.

Covid-19 looms over refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border

Since 2019, a crisis has been unfolding across the U.S.-Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas. About 2,000 refugees, largely from Central America, have been stranded in a riverside encampment, wholly dependent on humanitarian groups for food and other basic needs. Feeding them before Covid-19 was a daunting task for the aid groups, but the pandemic has made food delivery considerably more complicated, says FERN’s latest story. (No paywall)

Farmworkers will be exempt from immigration restrictions

After vowing to ban immigration in a late-night tweet, President Trump said Tuesday the administration would temporarily halt the issuance of new green cards and would not stand in the way of guest workers entering the United States. “The farmers will not be affected. That is a very …

U.S. embassy and consulates in Mexico to shut down, threatening labor supply for American farms

American farmers are bracing for major delays in the arrival of workers through the H-2A visa program after U.S. officials announced late Monday that the embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. consulates in Mexico will close, effective March 18, due to health and safety concerns caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Officials at the embassy did not say when the facilities might reopen. The H-2A program brings some 200,000 foreign workers to U.S. farms each year.(No paywall)

‘Public charge’ rule chills nutrition program enrollment among immigrants

Across the country, fear and confusion about the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule has prompted immigrants and their families to drop out or stay out of pubic nutrition programs, even when they are eligible, according to immigrant and anti-hunger groups. Enrollment in the Special …

White House ‘public charge’ rule cleared for now by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Trump administration can enforce its new “public charge” immigration rule while challenges work their way through the judicial system. The new rule makes it easier to deny immigrants residency or entry to the United States, if they are likely to receive …

New Trump administration rule could deny green cards to immigrants using SNAP

The Trump administration announced a rule on Monday that would allow federal officials to deny green cards and visa extensions to legal immigrants who have used certain public assistance programs, including food assistance.

White House fleshes out immigration plan, but no mention of farm labor

President Trump's proposal for a "merit-based" immigration system that favors younger, highly-trained and high-salary workers is now a 620-page bill that will be released "very soon," said presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday.

Trump asks farmer support on shutdown, hints at farmworker reform

In a speech to the largest U.S. farm group, President Trump asked American farmers on Monday to take his side on the partial government shutdown over a border wall and said that with a secure border, "I'm going to make it easier" for farmworkers to enter the country. "Because we want to take people in to help our farmers, et cetera. Very important," he said.

Climate change is forcing farmers to migrate from Central America

In Central America's Dry Corridor, a historically drought-prone region that stretches from Mexico to Panama and is home to 10.5 million people, climate change is producing longer and more frequent dry spells and forcing a growing number of farmers to attempt to migrate to the U.S., according to FERN's latest story, published with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)

Maryland’s crab industry struggles in absence of temporary work visas

As a result of a Trump administration immigration policy, crab houses on the Eastern Shore of Maryland have been short on labor this summer. Midway through the crabbing season, some in the industry are losing customers and profits in what might be the new reality for an industry dependent on immigrant labor.

House GOP tries anew on ag guest worker legislation

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.

Prospects dimming for House vote on ag guestworker bill

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.

In tussle over immigration bills, farmworkers play a role

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.

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