This week, Republicans in the House of Representatives released a new immigration bill to benefit agriculture.
According to Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer, the Ag and Legal Workforce Act would replace the H-2A visa program and require all employers, including farms, to start using the E-Verify system to make sure workers are legally in the country. The new bill includes provisions that were part of a broader GOP immigration bill that was voted down on the House floor last month.
“The bill would authorize 450,000 H-2C visas annually, and the visas would be good for three years,” he says
The measure includes some controversial language that requires workers have health insurance, according to Wiesemeyer.
“The bill also would leave family members of existing farmworkers in limbo if they are in the country illegally,” he says.
According to a press release from the House Judiciary committee on the new bill, the H-2C program is available to both seasonal and year-round agricultural employers, provides a generous visa allocation to ensure labor needs are met, much-needed flexibility to minimize disruptions in farm operations, eliminates regulatory burdens, and contains effective accountability and enforcement provisions.
While the bill is supported by more than 200 agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the odds are very low the bill becomes law, according to Wiesemeyer.