California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will work with fellow senators to give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and streamline the H-2A visa system for agricultural guestworkers. "It's time to give farmers the help they need and protect the essential workers who work hard to put food on our tables," said Feinstein, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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.
Without providing details, President Trump said on social media over the weekend that Mexico, the largest U.S. food and ag trade partner, would "immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers." Purchases were not mentioned in a joint declaration by the North American neighbors to avert temporarily Trump's threat to impose tariffs on all imports from Mexico unless it acted to restrict crossings at the southern U.S. border.
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.
With wildfires still blazing in Northern California and 222,000 acres already destroyed, vineyard workers are breathing particulate-filled air as they bring in the grape crop. Many of the workers are undocumented and can't afford to lose a paycheck even if their homes were destroyed in the fires that have consumed the region.
Thirty members of the U.S. House of Representatives—all Democrats—introduced a bill to give legal status to undocumented immigrants working in U.S. agriculture and to their families as well.
Last fall, the FBI derailed a plot by homegrown extremists to blow up an apartment complex in Garden City, Kan., that housed Somali refugees who had come there to work in the town’s meatpacking plants. In the latest story from FERN, produced in partnership with The New Republic, Ted Genoways tells how the town rallied around its newest residents.
President Trump proposed $1.5 billion to begin construction this year of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico — a signature promise of his campaign — ramping up to $2.6 billion in the fiscal year that opens on Oct. 1. The wall would be a concrete part of Trump’s policy of strict enforcement of immigration laws, which could drain the farm labor pool because many farm workers are believed to be undocumented.