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Immigration Reform

President Obama believes that our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our border, enforces our laws, and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants. He believes our immigration policy should be driven by our best judgment of what is in the economic interest of the United States and what is in the best interest of the American worker. President Obama recognizes that an orderly, controlled border and an immigration system designed to meet our economic needs are important pillars of a healthy and robust economy.

Agricultural Job, Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2009 (AgJobs): S. 359

This bill was most recently introduced in the Senate of the United States on May 14, 2009. It provides for the adjustment of status of certain foreign agricultural workers, amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to reform the H2A worker program under that Act, provides a stable, legal agricultural workforce, to extend basic legal protections and better working conditions to more workers, and for other purposes. Federal legislative information is available via the Internet through the THOMAS system by searching on the bill number (S.1038).

Children's Act for Responsible Employment of 2009 ( CARE Act 0f 2009): CH.R. 3564

This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives of the United States on September 15, 2009. It makes changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 pertaining to child labor on farms. Significant changes to the FSLA are ending an exemption agricultural employers have on oppressive child labor, repeals a waiver that allows 10-12 year old children to hand harvest crops under certain conditions, establishes minimum and maximum monetary penalties and imprisonment terms for child labor violations and violations resulting in death or serious injury of child workers, and prohibits children under the age of 18 from handling pesticides. The changes in these rules do not apply to children working on a farm owned or operated by the child’s parents.

American Specialty Agriculture Act: H.R. 2847

Introduced in 2011, the American Specialty Agriculture Act proposes to create a nonimmigrant H-2C work visa program for agricultural workers, and for other purposes

This act would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish an H-2C nonimmigrant visa for an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning and who is coming temporarily (10-month maximum per contract period) to the United States to perform agricultural labor or services, including the pressing of apples for cider on a farm.

Requires an employer or employer association to file an H-2C petition with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) which shall include specified employment-related attestations.

Sets forth provisions regarding:

  • penalties;
  • working conditions, wages, and transportation reimbursement;
  • admissions and extensions of stay;
  • abandonment of employment and worker replacement;
  • legal assistance; and
  • arbitration and mediation.

Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct investigations and random audits of employer work sites.

Requires an employer to guarantee to offer the worker employment for the hourly equivalent of at least 50% of the work hours during the total anticipated period of employment.

  • Limits the number of annual fiscal year H-2C admissions.
  • Prohibits the admission of spouses and children of H-2C workers.
  • Extends coverage under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act to H-2C workers.
  • Makes the provisions of this Act effective two years after its enactment.
  • Terminates authority to petition for H-2A temporary agricultural workers two years after enactment of this Act.

Legal Agricultural Workforce Act: H.R. 2895

Introduced in 2011, the Legal Agricultural Workforce Act amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a W-visa nonimmigrant classification for temporary agricultural workers.
Directs the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) to establish:

  • a nonimmigrant temporary agricultural worker program (W-visa) which shall include annual numerical limitations and monthly limitations based on enrollment requests, historical agricultural employment needs, and the reports of U.S. workers applying for agricultural employment; and
  • a trust fund to administer and enforce the program and provide a monetary incentive for such workers to return to their countries upon visa expiration.

Sets forth program provisions, including:

  • enrollment requirements,
  • a visa preference allocation system,
  • a biometric identification card requirement,
  • U.S. worker protections, and
  • visa increases due to extraordinary and unusual employment circumstances.

Makes such agricultural workers ineligible for need-based federal financial assistance

E-Verify Modernization Act: H.R. 693

Introduced in 2011, the E-Verify Modernization Act would amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1324a note) to make the E-Verify Program permanent and mandatory, and to provide for certain changes to procedures for participants in the Program.