Since the 1940s, the U.S. agricultural industry has heavily relied on the undocumented immigrant labor force to support its needs. However, in 2008, after significant expenditures to increase border security, there was a massive slowdown of these farm workers coming into the country. As a result, the agricultural industry was left in severe need of workers and replacements for their aging workforce. Since then, Congress has been continually trying to decide how to fix these labor shortages, while also tackling the issue of undocumented workers. This continuous back and forth on different legislations and immigration reforms has left immigrants with a lot of questions and worries about how these changes will impact them and their legal status. The Immigration Law Group understands these concerns and makes it a goal to provide its clients with the attention and legal expertise that they deserve. These Portland-based Attorneys are a diverse group of lawyers that have helped thousands of immigrants obtain their specific Visas and Green Cards while providing each client with the knowledge they need to feel confident about their case. With the recent news that the House has passed the Bipartisan Immigration Bill, many individuals may question how this bill may impact them? To fully understand what this bill entails, continue to read below or contact our dedicated staff at Immigration Law Group for further information.
The Bipartisan Immigration Bill and its Impact
The Bipartisan Immigration Bill:
Over the years, several legislative efforts that were geared to legalizing additional undocumented immigrants have failed. However, this new Bipartisan Immigration Bill is significant in not only its overall purpose but the Republican support that it has received. Even though the bill will still need to face the Senate’s vote, its hope of creating a pathway to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants that are working in the agriculture industry has got the attention of many waiting for a positive outcome.
How it Impacts the Agricultural Industry:
The Pew Research Center has indicated that in 2016, almost 15% of the workers in the agriculture industry were without legal status. This figure is a significant number that Congress has been trying to tackle. With this new bill, Congress hopes that the reforms that are introduced in it, have the potential of bringing substantial changes to an agriculture sector that has relied on undocumented immigrants for a long time. If this bill passes, it could ultimately legalize up to 325,000 unauthorized immigrants who are currently working in the agriculture business while also bring in the following changes:
- The law would allow farmworkers who have worked in the agriculture business for at least 180 days over the last two years the ability to apply for the “Certified Agricultural Worker” status. This status would also provide long-term farmworkers a path to get their Green Card.
- This bill would streamline the application process for the temporary visa program for seasonal agricultural workers: H-2A.
- This bill would also create a new program for year-round agricultural industries, which in the past have been barred from participating in the H-2A program.
- This bill would also tighten up the enforcement in the agricultural industry by requiring that farm employer participate in the E-Verify program while also freezing the minimum wage set by the government for one year. Followed by cap increases at 3.25% for the following nine years.
How This Bill Affects The Country?
If passed, this bill has the possibility of providing countless benefits to not only the immigrants that are currently in the U.S. without legal status but also aiding an agriculture business that is facing a severe labor shortage. This bill is the first step into fixing a system that has been broken for an extended period of time. One that has left the agriculture industry in critical need of workers and has created a vast black market of undocumented farmworkers that has resulted in continuous immigration raids and a lot of uncertainty for employers. Legalizing this bill is a massive step into not helping thousands of immigrants in our country, but also providing our country with a way to improve our agriculture business while moving forward with a legal workforce.