Know Your Rights & DACA Resources for Farmworkers

Immigration Enforcement/Know Your Rights for Farmworkers

Policy Updates and Strategies for the Field (2/15/17) –This webinar addresses immigration policy developments and immigration enforcement measures. The panel discusses immigrants' rights, with a focus on farmworkers and rural communities.  The panel discusses immigrants' rights, with a focus on farmworkers and rural communities. The panel features speakers from Farmworker Justice, the United Farm Workers Foundation, and SPLC. Listen here.

Legislative Proposals 115th Congress

► New Fact Sheet on the "Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), with 4 co-sponsors, introduced the “Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017.” The bill would establish an earned legalization program for undocumented farmworkers who have been consistently employed in U.S. agriculture and meet other requirements  Read our fact sheet. 

► New Fact Sheet on the DAIRY Act: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), introduced the “Defending the Agricultural Industry’s Requirements Year-round Act of 2017” (DAIRY Act), H.R. 2087. This House bill would significantly expand the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program by including year-round dairy farm jobs. The bill would allow employers to obtain H-2A workers on 18-month temporary work visas which employers could renew endlessly. Read our fact sheet.

► New Fact Sheet on the BARN Act: U.S. Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) has re-introduced the "Better Agricultural Resources Now Act", or BARN Act. This bill would amend the H-2A program to remove important government oversight and to slash labor protections that are need to protect U.S. workers and guestworkers. The proposed changes would deprive U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of job opportunities, lower farmworkers’ already poor wages, and enable exploitative conditions for hundreds of thousands of new guestworkers. The bill lacks the solution that is needed: an opportunity for our experienced farmworkers who lack authorized immigration status to earn a green card and citizenship and reforms to address worker abuses under the H-2A program. Read our fact sheet.

► New Fact Sheet on HR281: Representative Stefanik (R-NY) has re-introduced the so-called “Family Farm Relief Act of 2017,” HR 281, along with co-sponsor Rep. Collins (R-NY). The bill proposes to revise the H-2A agricultural guestworker program in ways that would deprive U.S. citizens and permanent resident immigrants of job opportunities and allow exploitation of vulnerable foreign citizens who are hired on temporary work visas. Read our fact sheet.

2013 Administrative Relief/DACA

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced several executive actions to reform the immigration system. We applaud the President’s action, which will provide relief from deportation for millions of undocumented individuals, including hundreds of thousands of farmworkers and their family members. Read Farmworker Justice’s Press Release.

A major piece of these reforms will benefit undocumented immigrants who are parents of US citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and have been in the US since January 1, 2010. The program, called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), is similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It will allow eligible parents to apply for temporary relief from deportation and work authorization. The President also expanded the DACA program to include more individuals. Note that there is no special program for agricultural workers.

A very rough estimate of farmworkers eligible for DAPA is 450,000. Available data are inadequate to confidently state a number or even a range. There may be about 2.4 million farmworkers in the U.S.; between 50% and 70% are undocumented. Surveys show that a large majority (over 80%) have resided in the U.S. for at least five years; a substantial portion (probably less than one-half) are parents of children who are U.S. citizens or LPRs. This estimate does not include a substantial number of spouses who are not farmworkers and will meet the criteria for eligibility.

WARNING! AVOID IMMIGRATION FRAUD: The DAPA and expanded DACA Programs are enjoined. There is NO application process yet for DAPA and the expanded DACA programs.

On February 16, 2015, a federal judge issued a court order in Texas v. United States temporarily preventing the federal government from implementing DAPA or extended DAPA. The Obama Administration is appealing the decision and is expected to eventually win. Until an appeals court overturns the judge’s order, potential DAPA and extended DACA applicants should continue to prepare for deferred action, including by saving money for the fees and collecting needed paperwork. Potential DAPA and expanded DACA applicants should not pay for anyone to file or prepare an application as there is currently NO application process nor any waiting list for DAPA or expanded DACA. Please note that the original DACA program announced in 2012 is still accepting original and renewal applications. Farmworker Justice’s statement on the court decision is available here.

Actual Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Guidelines

Farmworker Justice applauds Secretary Napolitano’s and the President's announcement of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) plan for certain young people. Eligible unauthorized immigrants who meet certain criteria will be able to apply to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for deferred action, which will prevent them from being deported for two years, at which time they may reapply for another two-year period. Individuals granted deferred action may apply for work authorization. You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. ** Taken directly from the USCIS website.

Generally, applicants must be at least 15 years old to apply. However, children who are under 15 years old in removal proceedings or who have a final order of removal may also apply. Applicants will also be required to undergo a background check after submitting their applications.

Farmworker Justice, in collaboration with farmworker unions and other organizations, is helping to ensure that farmworkers and their children are able to take advantage of the opportunity to earn DACA. Farmworkers support our communities and our country by ensuring a stable, healthy food supply, but face special obstacles due to their geographic isolation and low wages. They deserve full access to this opportunity. Farmworker Justice applauds DACA as a temporary, helpful step, but it will not solve the large-scale problem in agriculture, where the majority of farmworkers are undocumented and are unable to improve their working conditions or receive the respect they deserve. We also urge Congress to create a sensible immigration system for the many farmworkers who are aspiring Americans.

Potential beneficiaries of DACA should exercise caution to avoid fraud. Applicants should seek free or very low-fee services from a reputable organization or immigration lawyer.

For more information, see these warnings:

Understand DACA and the Requirements Before You Apply

Know the facts before you apply for DACA. Applications, along with guidance on the application process and information on confidentiality are available on USCIS’s website.

Legal Assistance: Information on legal clinics and free or low-cost attorneys and BIA accredited immigration representatives can be found at We Own the Dream.

Please note that there is no appeals process if your application is denied, so applicants should take their time in preparing their applications and have a lawyer or BIA accredited individual review their application.

Additionally, because this program is based on prosecutorial discretion (high level decisions about how to prioritize immigration enforcement), there is no guarantee that this program will continue. As USCIS itself notes, "DHS can terminate or renew deferred action at any time at the agency's discretion." Prospective applicants will have to weigh these considerations in deciding whether or not to apply for DACA.

For more information on DACA, visit the websites of the National Immigration Law Center and United We Dream. 

Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Guidelines

The DACA program is a deferred action program for individuals who came to the United States as children and meet certain education requirements.

The period of deferred action and work authorization will be granted for 3 years instead of 2 starting November 24, 2014.

The following changes will be made to DACA around February 2015:

  • There is no longer an upper age limit to apply. The requirement that individuals be under age 31 as of June 15, 2012 will be eliminated; and,
  • Adjust the date-of-entry requirement. Individuals will be eligible if they have continuously resided in the US since January 1, 2010.

The following other DACA requirements remain the same:

  • You must have come to the US before the age of 16;
  • Have been in the US on June 15, 2012;
  • You must also meet certain educational criteria, such having a high school diploma or enrolling in an adult education, ESL or GED class; and
  • Not have committed certain crimes.

For more information, visit or speak with a trusted community organization.

Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) Guidelines


Deferred action does:

  • Protect individuals from deportation for a period of 3 years
  • Allow participants to apply for work authorization that lasts 3 years
  • Allows participants to renew their deferred action and work authorization

Deferred action does not:

  • Grant individuals permanent immigration status or place them on a path to permanent immigration status and citizenship

Note that there is NO application process yet. The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting applications around May 2015. Deferred Action is discretionary and will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Requirements for Eligibility

According to preliminary information, you may be eligible, if you:

  • Have, as of November 20, 2014, at least one son or daughter who is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR);
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010;
  • Are physically present in the US with no lawful status on November 20, 2014;
  • Have not been convicted of certain crimes or engaged in certain illegal activity; and,
  • Apply from within the U.S.

You must also

  • Pay a Fee: the fee is $465 and is subject to change.
  • Submit to a Background Check: Once the application is submitted, USCIS will schedule an appointment for the applicant to be fingerprinted to conduct a search for any history of arrests or criminal convictions, including juvenile adjudications.

Note: USCIS will provide more information about these and other criteria closer to the date on which they will begin accepting applications.


Parents cannot yet apply for the new deferred action program. There is no application process. Be careful of notarios and others who promise to fix your immigration papers. Remember, in the US, notarios públicos are not lawyers and cannot give you legal advice or fix your immigration papers. Seek advice from a trusted community organization that provides free or low-cost legal services. If you are not sure if the person offering to help you is telling the truth, check with another reliable source, like a church or a community organization. There are some people who take advantage of immigrants by taking their money and giving them incorrect legal advice. For more information, see

For more information on administrative relief, visit