The House Judiciary Committee will mark-up four punitive, one-sided immigration bills this week. The four bills revive previously-failed bills. If they were to pass, they would deepen the problems of our broken immigration system. They are: Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) draconian interior enforcement “SAFE Act” from last Congress, renamed the “Michael Davis, Jr. in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act” (H.R. 1148); Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) “Legal Workforce Act, (H.R. 1147)” which requires all employers to use the E-verify system for checking immigration status; Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) “Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2015” (H.R. 1153), which would gravely harm asylum seekers, survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, military members, and abused neglected or abandoned children; and Rep. John Carter’s (R-TX) ironically named, “Protection of Children Act of 2015” (H.R. 1149), which would lower due process standards for all unaccompanied children and expedite their removal from the US.
A very conservative, outspoken federal judge yesterday issued a temporary order blocking the Federal Government from implementing the President’s deferred action programs that were announced on November 20, 2014, known as DAPA and expanded DACA. The not unexpected ruling held that of the 26 states challenging the programs, Texas, at least, has “standing” to sue. The district court judge based the order enjoining the deferred action programs on the claim that the Obama Administration had not followed proper procedures in creating the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) Program and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (expanded DACA) program. The judge reserved for later the decisions of whether the programs violate any law or the Constitution. The U.S. Government will appeal the temporary injunction against President Obama's immigration relief, and the appeal is likely to succeed. The ruling unfortunately creates uncertainty and fear in affected communities, but should be recognized as being only a temporary roadblock as the President’ actions were constitutional and will prevail. Farmworker Justice urges individuals to stay calm and to continue preparing for administrative relief. The decision does not affect the current DACA program announced in 2012, which is still in effect and accepting new applications and applications for renewal.
“Farmworker Justice, along with many legal experts, believes that President Obama’s executive actions are a proper exercise of his prosecutorial discretion, are constitutional, and will ultimately prevail. Farmworker Justice urges the Department of Justice to request the Court of Appeals to issue an emergency stay, which could expedite the process of review,” said Bruce Goldstein, president of Farmworker Justice. “Several hundred thousand farmworkers who labor on our farms and ranches could be eligible for these deferred action programs. The programs are well within the President’s authority. By eliminating the constant fear of deportation, farmworkers and other aspiring Americans will be able to contribute more fully to their communities and will be empowered in their workplaces.”
Farmworker Justice will continue to work with groups throughout the country to support and plan implementation of the DAPA/DACA programs and to win legislation that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented farmworker families.
Washington, DC – Farmworker Justice opposes amendments to the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security (H.R. 240) that seek to prevent the Administration from implementing President Obama’s immigration executive actions, which are urgently needed to protect immigrant families, youth, and others.
“The DACA and DAPA programs are sensible efforts to address the broken immigration system that is harming immigrants, employers, and the nation. They are a modest step in the right direction and should not be obstructed,” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice. Among agricultural workers, the people who labor in dangerous, low-paid jobs on our farms and ranches, a majority are undocumented. Many of these undocumented farmworkers live in fear of detection, job loss and deportation, and are vulnerable to abuse.
The President’s deferred action programs will allow eligible residents who lack authorized immigration status to come forward, submit to background checks and properly document themselves with the federal government and in their workplaces. Those undocumented immigrants who qualify will obtain a temporary relief from deportation and temporary work authorization. “With protection against the constant fear of deportation, farmworkers and other aspiring Americans will be able to contribute more fully to their communities and will be empowered in their workplaces,” said Goldstein.
The President’s actions are a proper exercise of his authority to enforce immigration laws. “Congressional efforts to prevent the Administration from taking these modest steps should be rejected not only because the President possesses the authority, but also because the Administration’s efforts are sensible and humanitarian as well as economically beneficial to our nation and food system,” said Goldstein.
We commend President Obama’s action to address our broken immigration system. The President took action because Congress has refused to address the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform. In 2013, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill that included a carefully negotiated compromise regarding agricultural workers and employers. Unfortunately, the House failed to act. These proposed amendments move in the fundamentally wrong direction.
During this week, we not only acknowledge this significant contribution of farmworkers but also call for better living and working conditions for farmworkers and their families by working to educate ourselves and raise public awareness.
Because 81% of Americans now live in urban areas, we are not regularly reminded of the labor that goes into producing our food. We cannot simply peer out of their windows and see how our food is grown and harvested for our daily meals. Moreover, the green bell peppers that are neatly packed in clean plastic wrap in the produce aisle do not remind us of the many hours a farmworker spends in the fields for low wages under dangerous conditions.
Farmworker Justice is partnering with a coalition of farmworker organizations led by the Student Action with Farmworkers to celebrate National Farmworker Awareness Week. Please see our partners’ scheduled events and follow their blogs as they discuss the following pressing issues each day: living conditions, pesticides and health, education, community, living wages, rights, solidarity, and family. You can become further engaged in this week by sharing the image from this post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and also by following us on Facebook or Twitter. Together, we can improve the working and living conditions of farmworkers. La unión hace la fuerza. ¡Si se puede!
On November 20th, 2014 President Obama announced his plans for executive action on immigration. We applaud the President’s action, which includes a deferred action program that provides relief from deportation and work authorization for millions of undocumented individuals, including hundreds of thousands of farmworkers and their family members.
Immigration is a critically important issue for farmworkers. Learn about current legislation proposals impacting farmworkers.
Learn about the history of guestworker programs, H-2A program for temporary agricultural work, and the H-2B visa program.