(NAFB)--As the Senate Judiciary Committee continues its review of the immigration reform bill - it’s expected the sections of the bill regarding agricultural worker programs and E-verify requirements will come up next week. That’s the prediction of United Fresh Produce Association Vice President for Public Policy Robert Guenther. The committee markup started on May 9th. There are some 300 amendments to deal with. The farm worker provision was developed by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and three others. It includes a path toward legalization for undocumented farm workers currently in the U.S.
On the other side of the Hill - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte promoted his farm guess worker reform proposal as a hearing Thursday. He said his Agricultural Guestworker Act creates an H-2C visa program that would be market-oriented and adaptable. Under the program - foreign workers could be admitted for up to 18 months to work a temporary or seasonal job. Those working in dairy and food manufacturing who would work year-round could be admitted for up to 36 months initially and then up to 18 months on subsequent H-2C visas. Once the authorized work period came to an end - the worker would have to remain outside the U.S. for a continuous period that is equal to at least one-sixth of the duration of the worker’s previous stay as an H-2C worker or three months - whichever is less.
According to Goodlatte - the H-2C program would be better than the current H-2A program because it wouldn’t require growers to hire and train unneeded workers after the work period begins or require employers to provide free housing and transportation for their workers - and would set wages based on the typical wage paid to ag employees in their locality - not an adverse effect wage dreamed up by labor department bureaucrats. Goodlatte said at its core - H-2C will be a guest worker program because it does not create any special pathway to citizenship for unlawful immigrants.