34 Republicans voted for the bill.
The House passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act with supports from both sides of the aisle. However, critics have blasted the bill since it contains language they describe as “large-scale amnesty.”
From Fox News:
The bill provides a process for undocumented farmworkers to seek a temporary five-and-a-half-year “Certified Agricultural Worker” status if they have worked for approximately six months in the industry in the last two years.
That status can either be renewed indefinitely, or workers (along with their spouses and children) can begin a path to permanent legal status in the form of a green card. That path, according to the legislation, includes background checks and $1,000 fine.
To secure the green card, those who have worked in agriculture for 10 years or more must work for four more years, while those who’ve spent less than a decade in the sector would have to work eight more years. Once workers receive a green card, they are then free to pursue work in fields outside of agriculture.
The H-2A agriculture visa program also receives a boost. The bill cuts “processing time and costs for visa petitions.” It allows the “Department of Homeland Security to set up a pilot program that would give H-2A workers the ability to change jobs within the sector if they find work within two months.”
A few GOP representatives had other problems with the bill. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) did not vote for the bill, but said he would work with his GOP colleagues in the Senate “to improve on the existing proposal.”
Collins said the farm bill benefits large dairies but “would not have a meaningful impact on Georgia’s agriculture.”
But Collins also lashed out at the immigration language:
“While the 224 pages of H.R. 5038 make many more changes to the H-2A program — some good and some bad — one need look no further than the first few pages to figure out the real point of this bill: a path to citizenship for an unknown number of illegal immigrants who do some work in agriculture, along with their families,” he said at the Judiciary Committee markup last month.
He also said the bill’s document standards are low and could allow illegal immigrants with multiple DUI convictions and a history of Social Security fraud to get legal status.
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