By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Two workers pick up tobacco leaves last summer in eastern North Carolina. (Photo: Diego Graglia)
A bill now in Congress would allow over a million undocumented farmworkers –or 75 percent of the nation’s agricultural workforce– earn legal status in the U.S.
Similar measures have been proposed several times over the last decade, but its proponents are hoping this time the AgJOBS, or Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act will become law under what some see as a more favorable climate for immigrants under the Obama Administration.
The introduction of the bill, which has bipartisan support, was hailed by farmworkers advocates:
The AgJOBS compromise was carefully negotiated by the United Farm Workers and major agribusiness employers after years of intense conflict. AgJOBS is endorsed by major labor and management representatives, as well as a broad spectrum of organizations, including Latino community leaders, civil rights organizations, religious groups and farmworkers themselves.
[Harvesting Justice blog]
Just as predictably, the initiative sparked immediate rejection among those who want to limit immigration:
AgJOBS would grant amnesty to at least 2 million illegal alien agricultural workers and “reform” the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to allow employers easier access to cheap foreign labor.
[FAIR Legislative Update]