Agricultural interests in California want immigration reform and support the Senate-passed reform bill. According to a spokesman for agricultural interests, farmers face a critical shortage of legally authorized and experienced workers. California and the nation need employment immigration reform and they need it now. The Senate bill is supported by both the agricultural industry and farm labor unions, according to that spokesman.
The bill provides an adjustment of status for experienced, but illegal, agricultural workers who now live in the U.S. These workers must serve a number of days annually in the agricultural sector for several years. When they complete that obligation, they can obtain permanent residence and the right to work in other industries, including agriculture.
The bill also has an employment visa program for agricultural workers. This offers two options: first, an 'at-will' work visa and second, a 'contract' work visa. They last for three years. The at-will work visa holder will be allowed to change farm employers without a contract. Contract work visa holders commit to work for one employer for a fixed period of time, giving greater mutual stability.
Farm workers can obtain legal status only after submitting proof of having worked in agricultural work for years, payment of taxes, being free of crime and payment of a fine. This allows farmers to keep those trusted workers who've been with them for years and know what they're doing. Thus, the Senate bill is a fair accommodation with the reality that the agricultural industry is based on the use of illegal labor.
Also, the law has a mechanism to prove that someone with an agricultural work visa is, in fact, working in agriculture. Furthermore, the spokesman states that farmers need a consistent supply of workers. Enforcement against illegal workers must go hand in hand with increased agricultural employment immigration to supply our farmers with the needed labor.
Agriculture in California and the nation relies on the employment immigration of agricultural workers because American workers will not take the jobs. Economic output would decline without allowing this source to flourish. Indeed, without sufficient agricultural workers, jobs in the United States in transportation, farm equipment, food processing, marketing and retail would decline considerably due to lower agricultural output.
Source: thecalifornian.com, "Time for immigration reform is now," July 28, 2013