Stallman said the bill balances security and labor needs.
“With less time and resources wasted locking up lettuce harvesters, the focus can shift to where it properly belongs: keeping those with criminal intentions out of our country,” he said.
Stallman said the bureau looks forward to working with House members to pass responsible immigration reform legislation that includes an earned adjustment for experienced undocumented agricultural workers and a new, flexible guest worker program.
Agricultural labor provisions
Current undocumented farmworkers will be eligible to obtain legal status through a new Blue Card program if they choose to remain working in agriculture.
Ag workers who can document working in U.S. agriculture for a minimum of 100 workdays or 575 hours before Dec, 31, 2012, are eligible for Blue Card status.
After a minimum of five years, workers who fulfill their Blue Card work requirements in U.S. agriculture will become eligible to apply for a Green Card, providing that they have no outstanding taxes, no convictions and pay a fine.
A new agricultural guest worker program will be established, with two work options:
- An “at will” option will allow workers to enter the country for a specific job offer from an authorized agricultural employer, under a three-year visa. Employees will then be able to move within the country, working at will for any other authorized agricultural employer during that time. Employers must provide housing or a housing allowance to these workers.
- A“contract-based” option will allow workers to enter the country to accept a specific contract for a specific amount of work from an authorized employer. This will also provide for a three-year visa and require employers to provide housing or a housing allowance.
All guest workers will be paid an agreed-upon wage under the terms of this agreement.
There is a visa cap for the first five years of the program while current workers are participating in the Blue Card program. The secretary of agriculture has the authority to modify that cap if circumstances in agricultural labor require.
The new program will be administered by the Department of Agriculture.