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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    House authorizes a path to legal status for undocumented farmworkers

    In a historic vote, the House authorizes a path to legal status for undocumented farm workers


    The bill could authorize over a million farm workers—with an option to secure green cards—for the first time since the Reagan administration, while expanding a controversial guest worker program.


    December 11th, 2019
    by Sam Bloch


    As part of a compromise to allow farmers to hire year-round foreign guest workers, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to create a path to legal status for over a million undocumented farm workers, in what could be the most significant action on immigration in decades.

    The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a sweeping, 224-page bill, passed the House by a 260-165 vote. Backed by hundreds of farm groups, and politicians on both sides of the aisle, supporters said the act would end the shadow of uncertainty and fear of deportation experienced by many field workers in the U.S. If passed in the Senate and signed into law by President Trump, it would be the first mass legalization of undocumented farm workers since the Reagan administration.

    The act allows undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. to apply to become “certified agricultural workers,” a temporary legal status, if they have worked in farming for at least 180 days in the past two years and pass background checks.

    Legalizing between 47 and 70 percent of farm workers will reduce the stress on families and stop business disruptions.

    This new status, which also covers spouses and children, can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the worker stays in farming for at least 100 days per year.

    Certified agricultural workers can apply for a green card after paying a $1,000 fine for violating immigration law, and agreeing to work in agriculture for another four or eight years, depending on how long they’ve already been in fields.

    The bill requires mandatory E-Verify for all farm employers. The online system, which checks work forms against a federal security database, is already required in many states, and would phase in after the reforms are implemented.

    “Certified agricultural worker” status is only available to current residents of the U.S., not those considering emigration now. But the Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses that issue through its other major component: an expansion of the H-2A guestworker program. The two reforms are bundled together because they’re both vectors of what farm businesses, in a letter to Congressional leaders, are calling a “labor crisis facing American agriculture.”

    “A stable, legal workforce is needed to ensure farmers and ranchers have the ability to continue producing an abundant, safe, and affordable food supply.”

    In the last five years, more than half of California farmers haven’t had enough workers to pick their crops, despite raising wages and benefits, according to a May survey conducted by the California Farm Bureau and the University of California, Davis.

    That shortage is caused, in part, by an undocumented workforce that is deportable and lives in fear of ICE raids, according to the survey. The new rules would make undocumented immigrants, who make up between 47 and 70 percent of American farm workers, less vulnerable. They would also secure a labor pool for farm operators and limit business disruptions.

    “A stable, legal workforce is needed to ensure farmers and ranchers have the ability to continue producing an abundant, safe, and affordable food supply,” a group of 300 farm groups wrote in a letter in support of the bill.
    The act creates a portable visa pilot program that allows so-called free agent workers to move from farm to farm

    Increasingly, farmers are turning to guest workers for help. Since 2005, H-2A applications have risen from 48,000 positions to 243,000 positions in 2018, which the Economic Research Service says is a clear indicator of labor scarcity.

    In response, the bill streamlines the H-2A application process, and makes some of those visas more flexible. The act authorizes three rounds of 20,000 visas for year-round work—especially important in sectors, such as dairy farming, that require labor throughout the seasons. It also creates a portable visa pilot program that allows so-called free agent workers to move from farm to farm. Currently, all H-2A workers are bound to one employer.

    “Being able to extend visas for a longer period of time would obviously be a benefit,” says Lupe Sandoval, the managing director of the California Farm Labor Contractor Association. “The border continues to be very, very tight. We don’t have much by way of new arrivals to supplement our aging workforce. So we are relying much more on H-2A visa workers.”

    Some progressives take issue with the bill. Daniel Costa, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, says the rule changes would hurt guest workers by freezing their wages next year, and allowing increases of no more than 3.25 percent over the next decade. Although their pay, known as the adverse effect wage rate, is currently above minimum wage, he says that in the long run, migrant workers would lose money.

    “They’ll be tied to farm employment for either, depending on how long they’ve been working, for four or eight years.”

    Moreover, for undocumented workers, the requirements to stay in farm work for several years may come to resemble a form of indentured servitude.

    “They’ll be tied to farm employment for either, depending on how long they’ve been working, for four or eight years,” he says.

    “That kind of keeps them in agriculture, and gives the employer more power over them, over whether they can ever get a green card.”

    This is not the first time that politicians have tried to legalize the country’s massive unauthorized farm workforce. President Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granted legal status to millions of undocumented Americans, including over a million farm workers who applied for status as “special agricultural workers.”

    Like the Farm Workforce Moderization Act, Reagan’s immigration reform was a three-part compromise: amnesty for millions of undocumented Americans, increased immigration enforcement, and expanded guest worker programs. The program stopped in 1988 due to fraud, Stateline reports.

    Since then, similar farm labor compromises, such as AgJOBS in the early 2000s and comprehensive immigration reform of 2013, have failed to pass Congress.

    The bill, which is co-sponsored by 37 Democrats and 25 Republicans, now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where backers are hopeful that anti-immigration hardliners will be swayed by farmers who say their business needs a dependable workforce.

    At an October immigration forum, David Shahoulian, chief counsel for the House Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee, said some Republican Senators will support the bill, but conceded that President Trump was unlikely to grant amnesty to undocumented Americans.

    “Will this President and Stephen Miller see it and, excuse my language, crap all over it and kill it? Yeah, that’s very possible, but you gotta try, right?” Shahoulian said.

    “This holds the promise of comprehensive reform. You have a sector that clearly is dependent on immigrants. You have a lot of very conservative Republican farmers who recognize that, and go to their Republicans, and say, ‘We need these people … If you deport them, we close down, and we can’t just replace them,’” he continued. “We’re hoping that takes. And people get comfortable with that.”


    Sam Bloch
    Sam Bloch is a staff writer at The New Food Economy. He has also written about arts and culture for publications including The New York Times, L.A. Weekly, Places Journal, and CityLab. Reach him by email at: samuel.bloch@newfoodeconomy.org


    https://newfoodeconomy.org/house-aut...-farm-workers/
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Any bets on what the senate will do on this?
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    House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers

    December 11, 2019 - 09:01 PM EST



    [COLOR=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.6509][/COLOR]
    The House on Wednesday passed a bill granting legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers.

    The legislation to provide work permits for agricultural workers was approved on a bipartisan 260-165 vote.

    After months of closed-door bipartisan negotiations, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act was introduced in late October by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.).

    Under the proposal, the H-2A visa category for agricultural workers would be reformed to add flexibility for employers bringing in new foreign labor.

    The bill would allow foreign workers who've worked in the U.S. agricultural sector for at least 180 days over the past two years to request five-year visas for themselves, their spouses and their minor children.

    Those visas would be renewable for workers who prove they've worked in agriculture for more than 100 hours per year.

    And some beneficiaries would be amenable to legal permanent residence, the prelude to citizenship, by paying a $1,000 fine.

    Workers with more than 10 years of agricultural service at the time of enactment would need to work another four years in agriculture to obtain legal permanent status, and workers with less than 10 years experience would need to accumulate a further eight years to qualify.

    The bill also provides limitations on access to social services for its beneficiaries, a cap on wage growth and universal implementation in participating sectors of the E-Verify program, a federal database designed to ensure workers applying for jobs are legally eligible for employment in the United States.

    The bill's proponents hope the measure could ameliorate a labor shortage in U.S. agriculture, an issue that's been aggravated by a complicated visa process and and enhanced immigration enforcement.

    "When you read the title, maybe folks may only think this is only an agricultural bill, but in reality this bill also helps deal with a vital national security issue -- a stable supply of agricultural goods produced here, in the United States of America," said Díaz-Balart, speaking on the House floor in favor of the bill.

    Only three Democrats, Reps. Bobby Scott(Va.), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Jared Golden (Maine) voted against the bill, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) voted present.

    The proposal also garnered the support of 34 Republicans, although proponents were hopeful up to 100 GOP lawmakers would vote for the bill.

    The party's right flank dubbed the proposal an "amnesty bill" and lobbied against it ahead of the vote, likely reducing support from the GOP.

    Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a longtime opponent of bills that include legalization for undocumented immigrants told The Hill the proposal is "amnesty. It's just that simple,"

    "It's disappointing," said LaMalfa.

    "The biggest trouble on our side is somebody says the "A" word and you run for the hills," he said.

    "This is not amnesty," LaMalfa added.

    LaMalfa said the bill would provide a way for foreign agricultural workers to come to the country with prior authorization, and allow for workers already in the country to regularize their status.

    "Those that are here, you know, we all acknowledge that many are not here legally, but it moves them to legal status without giving away the farm. It doesn't hand out citizenship. It doesn't hand out federal benefits," he added.

    But some Republicans' critiques were more nuanced.

    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said the bill would benefit large dairies but would not have a meaningful impact on Georgia's agriculture.

    "I'm not questioning the motives, I just don't think it was put together real well," said Collins.

    Collins added he's hopeful to sit down with Lofgren and Senate leaders to work out a bill to improve on the existing proposal.

    And Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, complained that Republican amendments were left out in the bill's markup.

    In committee, Lofgren alluded to the complicated balance of negotiations that led to the bill's final text in explaining her down vote on some amendments.

    Still, the bill marks a rare show of bipartisanship on an issue that's plagued Congress for decades.

    "We've tried to do this for decades. We tried as part of a whole bill, we tried as little bills. We never could get a majority vote to do anything until today," said Lofgren.

    Newhouse lauded Lofgren from the House floor Wednesday for including Republicans in forming "a diverse group of members of Congress, agricultural stakeholders, farmers and producers, labor unions and farmworker organizations to write a piece of legislation that'll go a long way toward providing certainty for our ag industry."

    And more than 350 agricultural groups joined in to support the bill, as well as major labor organizations like the United Farm Workers.

    Lofgren and Newhouse both underscored the idea that the bill "is not perfect," but said it's a good compromise for all sides.

    "You know why this is possible?" said Díaz-Balart at a press conference celebrating the bill's passage.

    "Because of [Lofgren's] honorability, her credibility, and the fact that whether you agree with her or not, you can trust her," said Díaz-Balart, a veteran of several high-profile immigration negotiations over more than 15 years.

    It's unclear when or if the Senate will take up the bill, although Senators on both sides of the aisle are expecting pressure from the agricultural industry and workers' groups to move it forward.

    And the White House has remained quiet on the bill, although both Newhouse and LaMalfa have been in contact with administration officials.

    "We've been working with the administration to make sure that we're at least getting close to something that they could support," said Newhouse.

    "There's no position statement at all whatsoever, they're continuing to keep an open mind, that's great, we want to continue working with them," he added.

    About 15 percent of workers in the industry are undocumented immigrants, according to a Pew Research Center study from last year.


    President Trump’s administration has intensified immigration enforcement in recent months, including an August raid of food processing facilities in Mississippi that detained almost 700 undocumented immigrants.
    Justine Coleman contributed.

    https://thehill.com/latino/474210-ho...f-undocumented
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Captainron's Avatar
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    This is laden with all kinds of riders to expand the immigrant population.
    "Men of low degree are vanity, Men of high degree are a lie. " David
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    SAY NO TO FARM BILL AMNESTY #8

    SAY NO TO DACA AMNESTY #9
    TO BECOME AN AMERICAN YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR VALUES ...NOT YOUR LOCATION

    STAY HOME AND BUILD AMERICA ON YOUR SOIL

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    Conservative Media Blackout on Amnesty Bill Keeps GOP Voters in the Dark

    For National Release | December 12, 2019

    Share & Discuss this release & alert by email and on (ALIPAC HERE) .. (FACEBOOK HERE) .. (TWITTER HERE) .. (GAB HERE)

    More than 99% of Americans have no idea that Congress voted to pass an unpopular Amnesty bill yesterday (HR 5038: The Farm Workforce Modernization Act) which would grant Amnesty, jobs, and voting rights to more illegal immigrants than Reagan's 1986 Amnesty because conservative and alternative media sources joined with the mainstream press to keep Americans in the dark about the bill...

    Read full release, list of conservative sources that bailed, and activism alert at...

    https://www.alipac.us/f8/conservativ...s-dark-376257/
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    MW
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDoe2 View Post
    Any bets on what the senate will do on this?
    Unfortunately, I feel it will pass because if the senate democrats all vote for it, I think they'll get a handful of Republicans to follow along. I hope I'm wrong, but at this point I believe our best bet is to convince the Trump administration that this is a non-acceptable amnesty bill and will do great damage to Trump with his base. Just my opinion.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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    Our Press & Plans to fight Amnesty bills next week
    https://www.alipac.us/f8/our-press-p...t-week-376274/


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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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