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February 07, 2019

Farmworker Justice Update: 02/06/19

Legislation Regarding Farmworkers Introduced in 116th Congress

Agricultural Worker Program Act Would Provide Path to Citizenship for Farmworkers

On January 17, Senator Feinstein and Congresswoman Lofgren (both of CA) introduced the “Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019,” (S. 175/H.R. 641). The bill is critically important for our nation’s food and agriculture system. Under the Trump administration, farmworker communities across the country are living and working in fear of immigration enforcement and deportation. If enacted, this legislation would alleviate that fear by providing farmworkers and their families an opportunity to earn legal immigration status. The legislation would provide a path to temporary legal status followed by lawful permanent residency for eligible farmworkers who meet agricultural work requirements. Immediate family members would also be eligible to obtain a “blue card” and lawful permanent residency. The bill is a bridge until comprehensive reform can be enacted and will provide desperately needed legal status for farmworkers while stabilizing the agricultural economy. You can find fact sheets summarizing the bill, in both English and Spanish, as well as a diagram detailing the application process, on our website. Please complete this form to sign your organization on to a letter asking Members of Congress to support this legislation. The bill currently has 61 co-sponsors in the House and 11 co-sponsors in the Senate.

BARN Act Would Weaken H-2A Program Protections

Also last month, Rep. Allen (GA) re-introduced the “Better Agricultural Resources Now (BARN) Act,” H.R. 60. The bill would eliminate important H-2A program requirements that serve to protect both U.S. workers and foreign guestworkers. Among its various provisions, it would eliminate guaranteed housing, decrease farmworker wages, limit worker access to legal help, expand the H-2A program to year-round jobs, and change oversight of the program from the Department of Labor (DOL), which is currently tasked with protecting workers’ rights, to the Department of Agriculture (USDA). You can find more information about the bill in our fact sheet. The bill currently has no co-sponsors.

Preliminary Injunction Hearing Held in Case Regarding H-2A Wage Rates

On January 28, U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Timothy Kelly held a hearing in the case of Peri & Sons Farms, Inc. v. Acosta. As noted in a previous update, this lawsuit, brought by the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE), seeks to reverse the DOL’s implementation of the 2019 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) for the H-2A program and freeze wages at the 2018 levels, which are lower for most states. The United Farm Workers, represented by Farmworker Justice and the law firm Covington and Burling LLP, had filed a motion prior to the hearing seeking to intervene in the case, as its members would be affected by any decreases to the AEWR. Several individual farmworkers, represented by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) and Public Citizen, had also filed a motion to intervene.

During the hearing, Judge Kelly granted both motions to intervene from the farmworker representatives. The Judge then heard oral arguments. The government and the intervenors reiterated the legal analyses in their written briefs requesting denial of the motion for preliminary injunction and dismissal of the case. Additionally, the Judge asked the parties if they would agree to a simultaneous ruling on both the preliminary injunction and the merits of the case. After the hearing, the parties agreed to such a joint ruling. The parties are now awaiting the Judge’s decision, which should be issued soon.

New Jersey Passes Minimum Wage Law That Discriminates against Farmworkers

On February 4, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to gradually raise the minimum wage in the state to $15. Under the bill, most workers will be entitled to receive $15 per hour by 2024.  However, the bill allows employers to pay farmworkers lower wages than other workers. Farmworkers would gradually reach just $12.50 an hour by 2024. Farmworkers would have a possibility of reaching $15.00 an hour by 2027, but only if recommended by certain government officials. Farmworker Justice was critical of this fundamentally unfair bill and signed on to a letter, led by the Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas (CATA), asking the New Jersey Senate not to take this step back for farmworkers’ rights. The New Jersey bill highlights the need for federal legislation to address the discriminatory exclusion of farmworkers from basic minimum wage and overtime protections guaranteed to other workers.

Worker Strike in California Results in Rollback of Pay Cuts

Last month, a worker walkout and protest resulted in the rollback of planned pay cuts for orange pickers in California. The United Farm Workers supported the walkout. The “Wonderful Halos” mandarin orange company had announced that the rate for filling a bin of oranges would be decreased by five dollars, to the detriment of many workers. The company restored the previous pay rate as a result of the protest. However, various other issues raised by workers remain unresolved, including uncompensated time. Many of the farmworkers were hired through third-party labor contractors. Under California law, growers and contractors are equally responsible for labor issues.

Shutdown Ended, But Another Shutdown Possible After February 15 Deadline

On January 25, President Trump announced an end to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which lasted 35 days, without getting any funding for the construction of a border “wall.” In late December, Trump had refused to sign spending bills that had been passed by Congress because they did not provide $5.7 billion in funds for this purpose. As a result, there was serious financial harm endured by many government workers who worked unpaid or were idled, as well as harm to the general population from curtailed government services.

The continuing resolution which re-opened the government runs out on February 15. Trump has threatened to trigger another government shutdown if a bipartisan conference which has been convened to discuss border security is unable to reach an agreement by that date. Trump has also suggested the possibility of declaring a national emergency in order to secure the funds for “wall” construction. It remains unclear whether there will be an agreement reached by the bipartisan conference by the deadline, whether there will be another government shutdown, and/or whether Trump will declare a national emergency to secure wall funding.

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

WPS and CPA Rule Revisions Withdrawn by EPA

On January 28, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially withdrew its proposed revision of certain protections in the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule from review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). As noted in previous updates, these two rules, which provide key safeguards for farmworkers from toxic pesticide exposures, were in danger of being weakened through rulemaking by the EPA. Last month, Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler committed in a letter to Senators that the agency would stop its efforts to roll back certain elements of the rules. The letter also stated that the EPA is still considering a potential revision to the Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) provision of the WPS, which provides protection to workers and bystanders from off-target drift. FJ will continue to work to preserve this protection, including through the submission of comments once the proposed changes are published.

In the meantime, FJ, along with various partner organizations, is working to ensure passage of a bill to reauthorize the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA), which includes key language protecting both the WPS and CPA rule. As stated by Senator Udall, “[t]here is no reason why we cannot act to provide a legally-binding solution that protects these rules and protects farmworkers. Congress should move quickly to resolve this issue and pass [the] worker-friendly PRIA agreement.”  

More States Intervene in Texas v. U.S. ACA Case

Last week, four more states - Iowa, Michigan, Colorado, and Nevada - motioned to intervene in Texas v. U.S. As a result, twenty states, led by California, now support the defense of the ACA in the lawsuit. An appeal in the fifth circuit is pending but a decision is expected later this year. In the meantime, the ACA remains in effect as the appeals process moves forward. More information about Texas v. U.S. can be found here and in previous FJ blogposts.

CMS Proposes 2020 Benefit and Payment Parameter Rule for ACA Exchanges

On January 17, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published its proposed 2020 Benefit and Payment Parameter Rule. This rule, issued annually, establishes standards for the ACA exchanges. It impacts consumer access to health insurance plans and in-person assistance, as well as tax credits and cost-sharing. The 2020 proposed rule further reduces the role of navigators in ACA enrollment. It eliminates the requirement that navigators provide post-enrollment assistance, including appeals and exemptions applications, and referrals for tax assistance. The navigator training will also be reduced, eliminating required training on topics such as: outreach and education methods and strategies, providing linguistically and culturally appropriate services, and working effectively with limited English proficient, rural, and underserved populations. A complete analysis of the proposed rule can be found on the Health Affairs blog. A CMS fact sheet on the proposed rule can be found here. The comment period on the proposed rule ends February 19.
 

January 24, 2019

          New Jersey state legislators are working on legislation to raise the state minimum wage gradually in steps, from the current $8.85 per hour, to $15.00 per hour by 2024.  But the proposed legislation would move farmworker rights backwards by creating a new exception from the state minimum wage for agricultural workers.  Farmworkers would not be entitled to receive $15.00 per hour by 2024.  Instead, employers could pay farmworkers lower wages that would gradually reach $12.50 an hour by 2024.  

            While the proposed compromise also has a slower phase-in for employees of small businesses and some seasonal workers, these workers would reach $15 per hour by 2026, and by 2028 will have an equalized minimum wage with other workers.  But all farmworkers, regardless of the employers’ size, would be excluded from a guaranteed $15.00 per hour rate.  Farmworkers would have a possibility of reaching $15.00 an hour minimum by 2027, but only if recommended by certain government officials.

                   The proposed compromise is out of step with the labor market, even for this low-paid occupation.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey of field and livestock workers, in the region that includes New Jersey (along with Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania), the average wage for farmworkers during 2018 was $13.15 per hour.   Five years from now, the minimum wage for these low-wage workers should not be a mere $12.50 an hour.

            The proposed wage discrimination is fundamentally unfair.  Much of the longstanding discrimination against farmworkers in wage and hour protections is rooted in racism and political expediency. Today, the majority of agricultural workers are Latino. Discrimination has persisted, depriving farmworkers of basic workplace protections and fundamental human and democratic rights.  It’s time to end this unjust discrimination, not extend it. New Jersey’s minimum wage law hasn’t been discriminating recently and shouldn’t start now. 

           Because many farmworkers’ jobs are seasonal, it is especially important that they earn enough during the season to support themselves and their families if they cannot find other work during the off-season.  Depriving farmworkers of the minimum wage applicable to other workers harms the very workers most in need.

A sub-minimum wage is also inappropriate because farm work is ranked as one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States.  It’s often back-breaking work in high temperatures with extraordinary productivity demands on the people laboring in the fields to harvest produce and on dairy farms to produce milk.   

            A low minimum wage is especially harmful for the most vulnerable workers who lack the bargaining power to win improved wages.  The large majority of farmworkers are immigrants, many of whom have been terrorized by the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigrant communities.  This fear often causes farmworkers to avoid challenging unfair or illegal employment practices, which impacts all farmworkers, regardless of their immigration status.  And because many farmworkers are not citizens, they lack the political power that their employers exercise.

            A low minimum wage also harms many law-abiding, reasonable agricultural businesses that are trying to do the right thing by treating farmworkers with respect and compensating them fairly.  Such responsible employers must compete against businesses that maximize profits by shaving their labor costs.      

              “Farmworker Justice calls on the New Jersey legislature and Governor to treat farmworkers equally with other workers and guarantee them the same path to $15.00 an hour as other workers in the state’s economy, said Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein.  He added, “New Jersey’s government officials should demonstrate respect for the valuable role played by farmworkers who feed us and should not deprive farmworkers of the equal protection of the law.”

January 11, 2019

Agribusiness Employers File Suit to Stop Implementation of 2019 AEWR

On January 7, the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE), along with grower Peri & Sons Farms, Inc., filed a lawsuit in D.C. federal court seeking to stop the Department of Labor (DOL)’s implementation of the 2019 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) for the H-2A program. In order to ensure that U.S. workers are not adversely affected by the H-2A program, H-2A employers must offer the highest of five minimum wage rates: the applicable federal or state minimum wage; the local prevailing wage for that occupation; any collectively bargained wage rate; or the AEWR.

The AEWR is set annually by DOL based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s surveys of wages paid by agricultural employers.  The current formulation of the AEWR, which was reinstated in the 2010 H-2A regulations, was initially established under the Reagan Administration. The NCAE lawsuit seeks to stop the implementation of the 2019 wage rates and sought a temporary restraining order, which was denied on January 8. DOL had already announced the new AEWR rates for 2019 in December 2018. The new wages were set to be implemented on January 9, meaning that as of Wednesday (January 9) and for the time being, the 2019 AEWR rates are now in effect. However, litigation is ongoing and the judge will soon determine whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction stopping implementation of the new wages.

Also on January 9, the United Farm Workers union (UFW) filed a motion to intervene in the case, as its members would be affected by any decreases to the AEWR. Farmworker Justice is representing the UFW in this case, along with the private law firm Covington and Burling LLP, on a pro bono basis. If the growers’ lawsuit succeeds, many U.S. workers, as well as H-2A workers, will receive lower wages. The 2019 AEWRs for most states are higher than the 2018 rates, following a pattern of modest improvements over the past few years. This lawsuit is the latest example of agricultural employers admitting a tightening farm labor market, which should result in competitive wage increases, while seeking exemption from the law of supply and demand that applies to other businesses.

New Jersey Minimum Wage Law Might Discriminate Against Farmworkers  

New Jersey legislators are negotiating a potential bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. However, a key lawmaker, NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney, is proposing to exempt farmworkers from the $15 per hour minim wage; instead subjecting them to a lower minimum of wage of $12.50 an hour. Sen. Sweeney represents an area of South Jersey with many farms. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median farmworker wage in New Jersey is currently between $11.70 and $12.92 an hour; thus, the “increase” to $12.50 would not be a wage increase in real terms for many farmworkers. $12.50 is also less than the 2019 H-2A program AEWR for the state of New Jersey, which is $13.15, further proof that the supposed pay increase would not represent a meaningful improvement on farmworkers’ current wages.

As stated by Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein, this proposal would be “a continuation of a long history of discrimination against farmworkers.”  We also agree with CATA, a New Jersey nonprofit group that advocates for migrant farmworkers, that farm work is no less valuable than any other category of work, and farmworkers deserve the same minimum wage as any other worker.  It’s time to end the unfair and unequal treatment of farmworkers; not create new discriminatory exceptions from basic protections other workers enjoy.

Shutdown Continues as President Trump Insists on Border Wall Funding

Today marks day number twenty-one (21) of what may soon become the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The partial shutdown is a result of President Trump’s insistence that Congress provide over $5.7 billion to fund the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Democratic Congressional leaders have stated that they will not provide any amount over $1.6 billion for border security (which was the amount in a previous Senate appropriations bill for FY 2019).  President Trump is also reportedly weighing whether to declare a national emergency along the border in order to bypass Congressional approval for funding for the wall. Meanwhile, nearly 800,000 federal workers have either been furloughed or have had to continue working without pay, affecting a wide range of government services.

Senate to Weigh William Barr Nomination for Attorney General  

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to hold confirmation hearings on January 15 and 16 for William Barr for the position of Attorney General. Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) called on President Trump to withdraw Barr’s nomination, based on his previous criticism of the Mueller investigation. Barr previously served as Attorney General during the Administration of George H.W. Bush. A coalition of civil rights organizations recently expressed serious concerns regarding Barr’s nomination, given his past record on subjects ranging from criminal justice reform to LGBTQ and reproductive rights, as well as his anti-immigrant views. Some of his troubling anti-immigrant positions include his support for the current administration’s Muslim ban as well as his past role in detaining HIV-positive Haitian asylum seekers at Guantanamo Bay in the early 1990s.

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

EPA Backs Off Plan to Weaken Worker Protection Rules

Last week, Acting Administrator Wheeler committed in a letter to Senators Carper (D-DE) and Barrasso (R-WY) to abandon EPA’s efforts to rollback critical elements of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule, in exchange for Senate confirmation of various political appointees to the agency. After two years of efforts by environmental and worker rights advocates to defend the WPS and CPA rule before the EPA, the courts and Congress, and to ensure the rules’ effective implementation, this is a major breakthrough. The draft of the proposed rules that we have been opposing are currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and we will continue to monitor EPA’s actions to make sure the proposals are formally withdrawn. FJ will also continue its efforts to codify Wheeler’s promises in legislation early in this congressional session through language in the reauthorization of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA).

Wheeler’s letter also states that the EPA is still planning to propose a revision to the Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) provision of the WPS, with a public comment period of at least 90 days. We fully expect EPA to propose harmful changes to the AEZ provision later this year. The AEZ provides a measure of protection to workers and bystanders from off-target drift during pesticide applications. FJ and partner organizations will work to preserve those protections, including through the submission of comments once the proposed changes are published.

Legislation Banning Chlorpyrifos Introduced in House

Earlier this week, Representative Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) introduced the “Pesticide Protection Act,” which would ban the sale of chlorpyrifos, a toxic chemical that has been linked to damaging health outcomes in workers, pregnant women and children. The bill, H.R. 230, currently has over 40 co-sponsors. The EPA was previously set to ban the use of chlorpyrifos under the Obama administration; however, it later reversed its decision under the Trump administration. Farmworker Justice, along with various environmental and worker rights groups, is currently involved in a lawsuit against the EPA in which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the agency to ban chlorpyrifos. However, EPA has appealed that decision and the litigation is still ongoing.

Labor Contractor Fined by OSHA after Worker Heat Stress Death

Last month, Georgia agricultural labor contractor Beiza Brothers Harvesting was fined $12,934 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for conditions that led to the death of a worker from heat stress. Previous FJ updates detailed the conditions leading up to the tragic death of the 24-year old worker while picking tomatoes in extremely high temperatures. OSHA also issued additional citations against Beiza Brothers related to a failure to train employees about hazardous chemicals and unsafe equipment, but did not levy additional fines for these citations.

Update on Texas v. U.S. and Status of ACA

After Judge O’Connor issued a stay in the Texas v. U.S. lawsuit, the 17 Democratic Attorneys General who defended the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provisions filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit on January 3. The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its own appeal the following day. The Fifth Circuit has yet to schedule an initial briefing. As the appeals process moves forward, the ACA and its provisions remain in effect. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives filed the first of two motions to intervene in defense of the ACA.

A recent poll conducted by Protect Our Care shows that more than half of voters oppose the recent decision in Texas v. U.S. and 59% want to see the ACA remain in effect with fixes made as necessary. On January 3, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final enrollment report that showed 8.4 million consumers enrolled in health insurance through healthcare.gov during the 2019 open enrollment period. This number is only 4% less than enrollment last year, despite the additional cuts to outreach and navigator programs. Enrollment is still open in a handful of states including Colorado (until January 12), California (January 15), and New York (January 31).

Latest News

February 07, 2019

Farmworker Justice Strongly Supports the “Fairness for Farm Workers Act of 2019” on Overtime Pay and the Minimum Wage

Farmworker Justice applauds Senator Harris and Representative Grijalva for their leadership in the introduction of the “Fairness for Farm Workers Act of 2019.” The bill would end the discriminatory denial of overtime pay and most remaining minimum wage exemptions for farmworkers.

As stated by Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein, “We are pleased to support Sen. Harris’s and Rep. Grijalva’s Fairness for Farm Workers Act, which would right a historical wrong by ensuring farmworkers have equal rights to minimum wage and overtime protections. It is long past time for farmworkers to receive basic and fair compensation for the difficult and dangerous work that they do, for long hours, day in and day out, to feed our country. National legislation is necessary. Right now, amidst state-level efforts to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, some legislatures have discriminatorily denied farmworkers the improvements that would apply to other workers. Congress should pass legislation to finally grant farmworkers equal labor protections in recognition of their essential and valuable role in our economic and food security.”

Eighty years after the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), farmworkers should not still suffer exclusion from many of the basic workplace protections that other Americans take for granted. Yet, the FLSA still denies farmworkers time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours per week.  Even though most farmworkers were added to the minimum wage in 1966, it is inapplicable to certain agricultural employers. The Fairness for Farm Workers Act would remedy the discriminatory denial of overtime pay and the minimum wage to farmworkers under the FLSA and would put farmworkers on the same footing as most other workers.

Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. that empowers farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions.

February 7, 2019 www.farmworkerjustice.org

Contact: Adrienne DerVartanian, [email protected]

February 01, 2019

Below is a press release issued yesterday on the New Jersey legislature's decision to exclude farmworkers from the gradual increase to a $15 minimum wage.  You can take action: send a message to the Governor via email at https://nj.gov/governor/contact/all/  and phone at 1-609-292-6000, and tweet @govmurphy.  Join the tweet storm today 1pmET @farmwrkrjustice  @CATAMigrantes @ufwupdates


Contact:  Bruce Goldstein, President                                                             January 31, 2019

Farmworker Justice 202-293-5420 ext. 304

[email protected]

Farmworker Justice Asks New Jersey Governor Murphy to Reject the Minimum Wage Legislation’s Discrimination Against Farmworkers

Farmworker Justice criticized today’s votes in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate on excluding farmworkers from the legislation that would guarantee a gradual rise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour.  Under the bill, farmworkers are not treated like most other workers who would receive the $15 minimum wage by 2024. Nor are they treated like the small-business’s employees or seasonal workers whose minimum wage will rise to $15 by 2026.  Farm operators, no matter how large, would only need to pay their farmworkers $12.50 an hour by 2024. After that government officials would decide how farmworkers are treated.

“The Governor should send the legislation back and tell the politicians to treat farmworkers equally with other workers.  They work in a dangerous job to put food on our tables. Inflicting sub-poverty wages on farmworker families for the next five years is unconscionable,” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice, a national advocacy organization.   

New Jersey’s minimum wage law hasn’t been discriminating recently and shouldn’t start now. 

The proposed compromise is out of step with the labor market, even for this low-paid occupation.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey of field and livestock workers, in the region that includes New Jersey (along with Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania), the average wage for farmworkers during 2018 was $13.15 per hour.  Yet, five years from now, the pending proposal would set the minimum wage for farmworkers at a mere $12.50 an hour.   

A low minimum wage also harms many law-abiding, reasonable agricultural businesses that are trying to do the right thing by treating farmworkers with respect and compensating them fairly but compete against low-road businesses.

Goldstein added, “New Jersey’s elected leaders should demonstrate respect for the valuable role played by farmworkers who feed us and should not deprive farmworkers of the same rights as other workers. Farmworkers should have the same access to a guaranteed $15 minimum wage as other workers.”

January 17, 2019

For Immediate Release                Contact: Bruce Goldstein, Farmworker Justice

January 17, 2019                              202-293-5420 ext. 304

Statement of Farmworker Justice on the Introduction of The  Agricultural Worker program Act of 2019

Bill would stabilize farm labor force, provide protections for immigrant farmworkers

(washington, dc)   Farmworker Justice welcomes the introduction of the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019 and strongly supports its enactment. We thank Senator Feinstein, Representative Lofgren and other Members of Congress for their leadership in support of reasonable, workable and fair immigration reform and their attention to farmworkers.

This bill builds momentum toward comprehensive immigration reform while addressing the unique and urgent needs of agricultural and rural communities. Americans depend on farmworkers for abundant, safe, healthy, and affordable food. Yet, the status quo for farmworkers and agricultural employers is untenable.  

“With a large portion of agricultural workers in the U.S. lacking immigration status, and farmworker families living under the threat of arrest and deportation, Congress must reform our broken immigration system. The opportunity for legal immigration status is crucial to enabling farmworkers to live and work productively without fear and to seek improvements to their working and living conditions.  The Agricultural Worker Program Act would help ensure a stable, legal workforce in agriculture, which is good for farmworkers, employers, consumers and the national interest,” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice.

The bill would establish an earned legalization program under which certain farmworkers who meet agricultural work requirements, national security clearance requirements, and other obligations are given temporary permission to work in agriculture for three to five years and the opportunity to earn immigration status with a path to citizenship.  Their immediate family members in the United States also would have an opportunity to convert their status.

The bill would not make any changes to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program.  The H-2A program, which allows an unlimited number of work visas each year, has modest but important protections against abuse of U.S. and foreign workers that should be strengthened and more effectively enforced. The Agricultural Worker Program Act would minimize the need for employers’ use of the H-2A guestworker program by providing a meaningful opportunity for immigration status for the hard-working undocumented farmworkers who put food on our table.    

Farmworker Justice is a national advocacy organization for farmworkers with over thirty-five years of experience serving the farmworker community regarding immigration and labor policy.

###

For more information, contact

Bruce Goldstein, at 202-293-5420 ext. 304 or [email protected],

or Adrienne DerVartanian at [email protected].