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Draconian agricultural temporary worker bill passes Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee panel

Draconian agricultural temporary worker bill passes Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee panel

Rep. Goodlatte’s measure is return to discredited 1942-1964 bracero program 

The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee passed by a 20 to 16 vote the Agricultural Guestworker Act (H.R. 1773), by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va). The bill would create a "servants-only" guest worker program for farm workers reminiscent  of the infamous 1942-1964 bracero guest worker program.

Goodlatte’s proposal would create a new agricultural temporary worker system that would result in massive job losses for domestic workers by transforming the farm labor work force into temporary workers with no meaningful protections or rights. The bill would also eliminate many long-standing worker protections and slash wages for both foreign and domestic workers.

The House plan would not allow undocumented farm workers currently in this country the ability to earn legal status over time. The United Farm Workers and other U.S. farm worker organizations and advocates urge lawmakers to support the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently in the Senate, which has bipartisan support. It features agricultural provisions negotiated by the UFW and the nation’s major grower associations providing for earned legalization of undocumented agricultural workers.

Goodlatte proposes replacing the existing H-2A agricultural temporary worker program with a new H-2C program. The H-2C system would deprive U.S. farm workers of jobs by reducing the obligations of employers to recruit domestic workers first, slashing wages and withholding 10 percent of workers’ pay. It would also minimize government oversight, limit workers’ access to judicial relief and legal assistance, and reduce temporary workers’ minimum-work guarantee. Furthermore, it would eliminate the requirement that employers provide housing for temporary workers and U.S. workers who travel to the worksite, and eliminate travel-expense reimbursement for temporary workers.

The Goodlatte bill’s "managers amendment" requires farm workers to self deport—they would have to report they are here unlawfully and return to their country of origin, and then could only come back if their employer requested them.

In addition, Goodlatte’s plan would not provide any pathway to legal status or citizenship for the current undocumented farm worker labor force and would only allow such workers to apply for temporary worker visas. In poll after poll, Americans voters, especially Latinos, have overwhelmingly expressed support for a path to citizenship for new Americans, such as farm workers, who contribute to the country.