Young Farmers Supports Immigration Legislative Proposals


In 2020, our members decisively voted to be an ally and advocate for immigrant rights and better labor conditions in agriculture and in the food system. 

As a farm organization, we are committed to using our organizational power to support immigrants, farm workers, and food systems workers on a path to citizenship and towards more workers protections. Citizenship and worker protections support the transition of immigrants, farm workers, and food systems workers to farm ownership and towards revitalizing our agricultural communities. We are excited to see immigration proposals be a top priority of the Biden Harris administration and of the 117th Congress. 

With the guidance of our Young Farmers Policy Committee and our allies on immigrant rights, we have endorsed the following legislative proposals:

 

The Citizenship Act of 2021

Shortly after Biden’s inauguration and the weeks before it, it was clear that the President-elect was planning to put forward a bold immigration reform plan. On February 18th, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was introduced by Senator Menendez, Rep. Linda Sanchez, and leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) in the Senate and in the House to set forth the Biden administration vision for immigration reform.

This bill would:

  • Create an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals
  • Promote immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship
  • Protect workers from exploitation and improve the employment verification process 
  • Prioritize smart border controls
  • Address root causes of immigration

The bill allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes. Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements would be eligible for green cards immediately. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics could apply to become citizens.

For more information please visit this link.

 

The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act of 2021

This Act provides a path to citizenship for “essential immigrant workers” and their families.

This bill:

  • Covers people on non-immigrant visas who are essential workers
  • Includes parents, spouses, and children of essential workers
  • Is defined very broadly to both cover federal and state definitions of essential workers
  • Does not include tax, English, or other requirements for legalization and the green card is immediate (no wait time)

For more information please visit this link.

 

Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 

This legislation is the culmination of bipartisan negotiations that included the UFW, UFW Foundation, and Farmworker Justice, as well as farm business representatives. On December 11, 2019, a previous version of this bill passed the House.

This bill would: 

  • Create a pathway to legalization for current unauthorized agricultural workers, including an eventual option to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR)
  • Reform and modernize the existing H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program
  • Fund a pilot program of up to 10,000 “portable” H-2A visas, allowing workers to move freely between registered agricultural employers
  • Require all agricultural employers to implement a reformed “E-Verify” program to ensure their workers are authorized

For more information, please visit this link.

 

These legislative proposals lay out key policies for recognizing and advancing immigrant rights in our society and food system. We will work closely with congressional officers, elected officials and immigration advocates to make sure these legislative proposals advance racial equity and protect the rights and dignity of immigrants and workers. 

The National Young Farmers Coalition applauds the elected officials that led the writing of these bills, and looks forward to being a part of this important policy conversation and supporting the needs of allied organizations in the coming months.

 

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