Guarantees growers ‘legal and stable workforce they say they need’
United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero and UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres issued the following statement following introduction of the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019 by U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.):
Immigrant farm workers whose skill and hard work feed America and all of us have earned the right to apply to legally remain in the United States and would be able to do so under the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019, introduced by Representative Lofgren and Senator Feinstein. It would also guarantee growers the legal and stable workforce they say they need. This urgently-needed measure would allow field laborers to apply for “Blue Card” status providing them the legal right to stay and work without peril.
The Lofgren-Feinstein bill is equitable and rational immigration reform serving the needs of both farm workers and growers. Doesn’t it make more sense to let law-abiding, tax-paying undocumented farm workers in this country now earn legal status before turning to substantial numbers of additional guest workers from outside the U.S.?
Those who qualify under the Agricultural Worker Program Act 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 an additional three- to five-year period.
The Agricultural Worker Program Act offers America’s farm workers and their families—including many U.S. citizen children—relief from the palpable fear that paralyzes local communities and threatens stability in the agricultural industry. People are afraid to leave their homes when they drive to work every morning. They deserve relief.
We are grateful to Representative Lofgren and Senator Feinstein for their leadership and commend them for authoring this legislation.