The House of Representatives last week voted down a bad Farm Bill. That seems like good news. But it’s not over. The House leadership is discussing a complicated deal that involves combining a revised Farm Bill and terribly anti-immigrant, anti-worker immigration legislation introduced by Rep. Goodlatte. Why? Because some right-wing conservatives in the House voted against the Farm Bill because they first want a vote on Goodlatte’s terrible immigration bill. We must stop the bill.
According to Roll Call, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has said that they will give in to this demand by the far right and the Goodlatte immigration bill will get a vote early the week of June 22 followed by the Farm Bill. This is a nightmare for farm workers. The Goodlatte immigration bill basically creates a modern day Bracero program that would undermine the wages and working conditions of all agricultural workers. The bill would expand the scope of the current H-2A program in a way that will harm both US and immigrant workers.
We cannot let agriculture be taken back to the 1940's.The current Republican efforts to replace the H-2A program with a new agricultural visa system will create even more unfairness and dysfunction in our already broken immigration system. Even worse, it would deprive US citizens and lawful permanent residents of job opportunities. It does this by weakening the laws that requires US citizens and legal residents to be offered these jobs first. The bill expands access to guest workers for even more employers, such as those in year-round food processing. It would also lower farm workers' already poor wages and allow exploitative conditions for hundreds of thousands of new guest workers who would have even fewer labor and political rights. The legislation would allow growers to replace any farm worker not willing to work for $8.34/hour or their state minimum wage.
Workers are concerned that the bill could affect their livelihood. Vicente Pizano has worked year round harvesting mushrooms for 39 years and is concerned about expanding the guestworker program to include year round jobs like his. He tells us, “I think that this program will affect the wages that we earn and also the benefits that we have. In my opinion, this program is going to create competition that will reduce our salaries. Ultimately, in the end, our lives and our families’ lives that are established in this country will be drastically impacted.”
One of the things we give thanks for living here in America is that we have laws that protect workers. Why would we change the law to lessen the protections of the people who work so hard to feed us? Or put new laws in place that would lower the wages of people already doing this work? We must defeat this bill and others like it.
Click here to contact your House of Representatives Member today and ask that they oppose the Goodlatte bill.
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