The people presently toiling in the fields to feed America would be given the chance to legally remain in the United States under a bill U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) has introduced in the House of Representatives. Gutiérrez’s Agricultural Worker Program Act, mirroring a measure offered in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D- CA), would allow field laborers now employed on American farms to apply for “Blue Card” status giving them the legal right to stay without importing substantial numbers of additional guest workers from outside the country.
“Rep. Gutiérrez’s bill recognizes that the people who feed our nation should be given the chance to be here legally while guaranteeing growers the legal and stable workforce they say they need,” said United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez. “The measure addresses the unique and urgent needs of agricultural and rural communities. We are grateful to have such terrific champions in Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, and such a diverse and powerful group of original co-sponsors.”
Those who qualify under the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017 would have to demonstrate they have consistently been employed on U.S. farms over the past two years, pass thorough background checks and pay a fine. Permanent legal status would only come after workers continue laboring in agriculture over a three to five year period.
Rep. Gutiérrez’s office announced 26 original co-sponsors, including Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Judy Chu (D-CA). The complete list of original co-sponsors (alphabetical order): Nanette Barragán (CA); Earl Blumenauer (OR); Salud Carbajal (CA); Tony Cárdenas (CA); Judy Chu (CA); John Conyers (MI); Adriano Espaillat (NY); Dwight Evans (PA); Ruben Gallego (AZ); Vicente González (TX); Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ); Pramila Jayapal (WA); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); Zoe Lofgren (CA); Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM); Doris Matsui (CA); James McGovern (MA); Jerrold Nadler (NY); Grace Napolitano (CA); Jimmy Panetta (CA); Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA); Linda Sanchez (CA); Brad Schneider (IL); Albio Sires (NJ); Darren Soto (FL); Mike Thompson (CA); Juan Vargas (CA); Filemon Vela (TX); and Peter Welch (VT).