Democrats introduced companion bills in the House and Senate on Thursday for a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration law. The bills, backed by President Biden, include an expedited three-year path to citizenship for some undocumented farmworkers.
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.
Returning to a signature issue of his campaign, President Trump endorsed a Senate bill for a skills-based system for immigration that could have a distant effect on farm labor because it would halve the flow of legal immigrants. The Ag Workforce Coalition of farm groups said it "continues to work with key lawmakers on legislation that would address agriculture's needs" for a legal and reliable supply of farm workers with hopes the issue will gain traction in the fall.
During his time as House Agriculture chairman a decade ago, Rep. Bob Goodlatte says he learned firsthand that the H-2A agricultural guestworker program is outdated and should be replaced. Now the House Judiciary chairman, Goodlatte says he will sponsor a bill for a new guestworker program that, in addition to foreign workers recruited to work in America, could cover the tens of thousands of undocumented farmworkers already in the country — but with no pathway to permanent legal status.
While in Hamburg, Germany, for the G20 summit, President Trump met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, for the first time since the start of the American leader’s term. Nieto’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, predicted that NAFTA talks with begin August 16.
Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the Trump cabinet are holding a conference in Miami with Central American leaders, pressing them to discourage their citizens from migrating to the United States, says the LA Times. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin will be in attendance, along with officials from the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America or Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — countries known for their high murder rates, extreme poverty and violence.