House Democrats are about to attempt something that Washington hasn’t been done in over three decades: Enact immigration reforms that would give farmers better access to foreign workers while offering legal status to their existing employees.
A bipartisan farm labor reform bill released Wednesday would expand the H-2A program to year-round workers and provide farms relief on wage rates, while offering legal status to existing agricultural workers who are undocumented.
The Department of Labor will no longer require agricultural producers to place advertisements for H-2A jobs in print newspapers, in a move designed to boost recruiting for workers and save employers money.
A sweeping proposed overhaul of the H-2A farm labor program would have varying impacts on worker wages, while cutting farmers’ transportation expenses and reducing the number of applications farms have to file to import employees.
The Labor Department is proposing to overhaul wage requirements and streamline the application certification process for the H-2A farmworker visa program, which is under heavy demand by growers searching for new sources of labor.