Harder Joins Bipartisan Coalition to Introduce Agriculture Immigration Fix

October 30, 2019
Press Release
Bill Would Give Farmers, Farmworkers Certainty in Labor

First Bipartisan Immigration Bill Introduced in House in Decades

WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) is joining a handful of Democrats and Republicans to introduce the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bill will give farmers a strengthened source of necessary labor by giving qualified farmworkers the chance to earn visas, improve the H-2A visa program to help our dairy industry, and give agriculture workers a chance to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. The agreement is being introduced by both Democrats and Republicans and has the support of agriculture, immigration, and labor groups.

“Most people in Washington couldn’t tell you which end of the cow the milk comes out of or where almonds come from – so it’s no surprise that the immigration laws on the books were not written with the needs of our ag community and farmworkers in mind,” said Representative Josh Harder. “We have a bipartisan solution here that will give folks a chance to get right with the law, give our farmers certainty in their workforce, and make sure we’re addressing the needs of our dairy farmers in the H-2A program. It also gives folks who work hard in the fields and contribute to our communities a chance to come out of the shadows and earn a path to citizenship.”

Rep. Harder has heard from dozens of farmers about the devastating effects of labor shortages and from farmworkers about the need for a more humane immigration system.

This immigration reform bill is targeted specifically at the agriculture industry and is the product of months-long negotiations between members of both parties, including Rep. Harder, immigration and labor advocates, and agriculture organizations. Rep. Harder is joining dozens of members of Congress from both parties to introduce the bill.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act includes three main components:

 

Providing Earned Status Opportunities for Certified Agricultural Workers

The bill will establish a program for undocumented agriculture workers to get right with the law and earn legal status through continued work in agriculture. In return, it will require workers to undergo biometric screenings and prevent these workers from getting access to certain government programs.          

 

Improving the H-2A Visa Program

H-2A visas are specifically designated for use by agriculture workers. The current system is full of red tape and only applies to seasonal workers, harming dairy farms, which operate year-round. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will reduce the time and costs associated with getting access to a legal source of immigrant labor. It will also make the program more flexible for dairy farmers.

 

Establishing E-Verify

The bill would make the use of the E-Verify system mandatory specifically for the agriculture sector. E-Verify requires employers to check on the legal status of their immigrant workers.

More information about each title of the bill is available here.