On December 11, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5038, Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This bill allows for current farmworkers who do not have lawful status to be able to apply for lawful status to continue working, as well as reforming the long-standing H-2A system. The bill includes a requirement for farmers to check their workers’ legal status via the E-Verify system. With this new implementation, it will ensure that farmworkers are paid the minimum wage, guarantees minimum work hours, and making the program available year-round for agricultural work.
This bill is expected to be beneficial for both the immigrant community working in the farming industry, as well as American farmworkers. As Marketa Lindt, AILA President noted, “U.S. farmers continue to make a critical contribution to the U.S. economy by ensuring a safe and reliable food supply, improving energy security and supporting job growth and economic development. However, our immigration laws have been a long-standing obstacle to effective recruitment and retention of farmworkers. We welcome this compromise bill, which shows how both parties can come together to bring our immigration laws into this century and reflect the needs of American farms and the farmworkers upon whom they depend.”
As the bill moves through the Senate, we will continue to keep you updated on developments. To stay up to date on immigration news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter.