Friday, July 21, 2017

Trump Proposes new "Guestworker" Program

Farm workers and their families are being threatened once again. The threat escalated this week with Trump’s GOP pushing a guestworker program that would make farm workers indentured servants to be imported in and out of the USA to feed us. This is a solution that will not work -- as according to a Department of Labor Report, at least half of all farm workers in the US are undocumented and many have been here for more than 15 years and have children who are citizens.

Our nation’s food supply relies on the hardworking men and women who labor to put food on our tables, so the solution must include an earned path to legalization for these people and their families who are essential members of our society.  

Wednesday, the House Immigration Subcommittee held a hearing on agricultural guestworker programs. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair of the Judiciary Committee, said he will introduce a bill to repeal and replace the current H-2A guestworker program. His bill would eliminate major labor protections on wages, housing and government oversight in addition to not offering a path to legal permanent residency and eventual earned citizenship for farm workers already laboring here. And Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee without warning, tried to sneak provisions into an unrelated appropriations bill that would require the U.S. government to approve employers’ applications for permission to hire agricultural guest workers for jobs that are year-round. H-2A visas could be issued without regard to whether the jobs are temporary or seasonal. These moves could also worsen wages and conditions for documented and US citizen farm workers.  

The solution is the Agricultural Worker Program Act -- known as the "Blue Card” which was introduced last month in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein and has 8 cosponsors and into the house by Congressman Luis Gutierrez and has 54 co-sponsors.  

The "Blue Card" offers experienced farm workers presently toiling in the fields the chance to legally remain working in agriculture in the United States, and is a much more workable solution than importing substantial numbers of additional guest workers from outside the country. The Blue Card takes care of a real need in the farm worker community. It will protect farm workers from deportation and put them on a pathway to legalization and citizenship -- if they show consistent employment in US agriculture and meet other criteria.

Help us stop these anti-worker, anti-immigrant proposals. We must struggle for fair immigration policies and a path to immigration status and citizenship for undocumented farm workers and their families. E-mail your Congressmembers in support of our Blue Card immigration bill for farm workers.

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