Senator Anna Caballero of Merced spoke for the first time last week on her bill to grant agricultural workers permanent resident status.

In a Fresno Bee webinar, Caballero said California is “different than most of the other states. If you asked us, we’d give them all a green card.” That would enable farmworkers to qualify for all federal benefits.

According to Caballero, her bill would allow Gov. Gavin Newsom to work with President Joe Biden on a program allowing California to identify farmworkers as essential workers and give them permission to work and stay in the U.S.

“If no other state wants to do that, that’s ok,” she said.

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But immigration reform remains a polarizing topic in Washington and such a program would face an uphill battle.

“We’ll see whether we can get it through the Legislature,” said Caballero.

Senate Bill 831 is in the Senate Human Services Committee and not on the agenda for the committee’s next two hearings.