The Farm Workforce Modernization Act – The Act that will provide Citizenship for Farm Migrant Workers
by Jose Enrique Perez
The Biden Administration has been pushing for changes in immigration in the last 100 days since Biden was sworn in as President of the United States. He has said that DREAMERS, Farm workers and TPS holders are special groups that should get a path to legalization now as both parties agree.
Congress then passed just a few weeks ago the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a comprehensive bill that offers a path to legal status for undocumented agricultural workers. The bill was sponsored by Reps. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, and Zoe Lofgren, D-California. The bill passed by a vote of 247-174. It is important to note, only one Democrat did not support the measure, and 30 Republicans also voted in favor.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is broken into three main sections. First, the bill allows domestic farmworkers to seek temporary status as a “Certified Agricultural Worker” if they have worked at least 180 days in agriculture over the last two years. Workers can then apply for a green card based on several criteria. Those with at least 10 years of previous agricultural experience would need to complete four more years of farm work before they are eligible. Those with less than 10 years of experience would need to work eight more years. Applicants are also subject to background checks.
The second part of the bill makes several reforms to the H-2A guest worker program. Among the changes are consolidating the filing process, capping wages and opening the program to year-round industries, including nurseries and dairies.
The third section would make E-Verify mandatory for all farms to determine their employees’ work eligibility. The online system allows employers to immediately verify their status.
The bill has the support from more than 300 organizations. Both Democratic and Republican Senators have expressed some support.
The bill still requires H-2A employers to provide free housing and transportation for workers. It also allows private right of action for H-2A workers to sue their employers for the first time.
Now the bill is with the Senate and is expected to be voted on soon.
You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with this program or any new immigration policies. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.
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