Several reports came out over the weekend that a compromise had been reached on the last hurdle standing in the way of introduction of comprehensive immigration reform. Agriculture had been one of the major stumbling blocks in the development of the Senate’s bi-partisan group of eight proposal which is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday this week.
Several rumors are bouncing around right now but they all have similar themes if not exact details. What is consistent is that there are provisions for the workers here already working in agriculture illegally, there will be a new program to replace the broken H2A program and that there will be a cap each year on the new workers coming in to the country.
Things like the number of workers under that cap (120,000 – 200,000+), how long the stay (3 yrs etc) etc have yet to be announced. It appears that the workers already here working in ag, will be able to stay and eventually get a green card after being here with a blue card status for a period of time and continuing to work in ag.
The devil is always in the details. Although the Ag Workforce Coalition and some Senators have made positive statements in the past few days, anytime unions, farm worker representatives and farmer organizations get together, it can be a very tense issue. The fact that I have read varying details, although the framework is similar, makes me cautious at best about rejoicing about a deal.
For ginners, the use of the H2A program has always been looked at with skepticism by many but we are still able to use it. As long as the new program includes all those that are currently eligible to use the H2A program, or better yet expand who can use the ag worker program, we will be supportive.
Again the devil is definitely in the details and as soon as legislative language can be looked at or a detailed version of the comprehensive immigration reform is announced, we will give you an update. This is really the best news that could have been hoped for at this point and we’re very happy if this is true.