Anti-Immigration:  Trump and McConnell

The House Has Already Approved a Pathway to Citizenship for Thousands of

Undocumented Farmworkers

A CNN Report:  The House passed a bipartisan bill that would grant legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers.  The do-nothing Senate has the bill sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk for more than a month.

While previous legislative efforts seeking to legalize a larger number of undocumented immigrants have failed, Wednesday’s vote is significant both for what it tries to achieve and for the Republican support it received. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 260-165, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

The Republican President, Ronald Reagan, created the SAW (Seasonal Agricultural Worker’s) Program in 1984 that provided work authorization and a valid social security number for 35,000 agricultural workers.  This unique bi-partisan law not only helped to create a legal status for U.S. farmworkers, it helped the entire U.S. agricultural industry by providing workers to fill the much needed void in the existing labor force.  Prior to the enactment of the SAW program, crops were rotting in the field due to the sever labor shortage.

The measure would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants working in agriculture, reforms a temporary agricultural program used by employers and requires companies to verify whether workers are in the United States legally through a federal system.

Taken together, the reforms laid out in the legislation has the potential of bringing about sweeping changes to an industry that’s relied on undocumented immigrants. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, immigrants without legal status accounted for 15% of workers in the agriculture industry.

“These are real challenges facing the agricultural sector,” according to Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

“Unfortunately, our immigration laws have not been updated to reflect the needs of our 21st century economy,” the New York Democrat said in a House floor speech. “Due in large part to these outdated laws, undocumented workers now comprise about half of the farm workforce. But they are living and working in a state of uncertainty and fear, which contributes to the destabilization of farms across the nation.”

Over recent months, the Trump administration has ramped up immigration enforcement at workplaces, including in the agriculture sector. In August, US immigration authorities targeted food processing facilities across Mississippi, rounding up nearly 700 undocumented immigrants.

In November, over 300 agriculture groups sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy backing the agriculture bill and calling for the House “to address the labor crisis facing American agriculture.”

“Securing a reliable and skilled workforce is essential, not only for the agricultural industry but for the U.S. economy as a whole,” they wrote.

Immigration has been a contentious issue on Capitol Hill for years. Since taking the House majority, Democrats have tried to push through legislation to address the undocumented population in the United States, but to little success in the Senate.

In June, for example, the House passed a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than one million undocumented immigrants. It’s still before the Senate.


Contact your Representatives in Congress:

Senator Rick Scott – 202-224-5274

Senator Marco Rubio – 202-224-3041

Congressman Michael Waltz – 386-302-0442


For additional information, and for a free copy of our Newsletter contact:

American Immigration Attorneys, PLLC

(386) 585-4384


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