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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In the Nation

H-2A Reform Passes House

Saturday, December 14, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed by a bipartisan majority of 260-165 the Farm Workforce Modernization Act HR 5038. The bill now moves on to the Senate where its fate is less certain.

The bill has three main sections or titles:

Title I - Earned Status for Certified Agricultural Workers

This title establishes a program for agricultural workers in the United States to get right with the law and earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy. 

Title II.  Improving the H-2A Program

This bill would improve the H-2A visa program to work for all of agriculture. 

·  It would reduce the time and cost for growers who utilize the program, so they have access to a legal source of labor when they need it. 

·  It modernizes and applies caps to out-of-control wage growth in the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR).

·  It streamlines the processing of H-2A petitions so growers can get farmworkers when they need them.

·  It pilots a portable H-2A visa program to allow employers and farmworkers to respond more dynamically to labor needs.

Title III.  Mandatory E-Verify for the Agricultural Sector

This title would establish a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment.  

The bill would improve E-Verify for the whole country, but the system would be made mandatory only for the agricultural sector, with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system. This phase-in will ensure that agricultural employers are not inadvertently harmed while the new systems the bill puts into place are being developed.

A synopsis of the bill can be downloaded here. The full text of the bill can be downloaded here.


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