Harder Votes to Pass Win-Win Bill for Immigrant Workforce & Ag Industry
WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman Josh Harder (CA-10) voted to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act which would provide a smart and humane solution to the temporary farm worker system in the Central Valley. 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 has the support of agriculture, immigration, and labor groups.
“Our immigration system was designed by folks in Washington with less than zero understanding of the needs of our ag community and our farmworkers. It’s time we update our system so our farmers can hire the workers they need, and our workers can get right with the law,” said Rep. Harder. “This bill is a win-win for our workforce and our ag industry, not to mention its impact on keeping our communities whole.”
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.
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.
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.
The full text of the bill can be found here.