The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was enacted by the prior Democratic-controlled House In December, 2019, and was re-introduced this week. This and the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 are the two major immigration related legislative initiatives underway.
Farmworker-related legislation has been sought by a coalition of worker advocates and employer-based farm associations for some time. They are responding to a crisis in farm labor supply.
Some highlights of the bill:
Temporary legalization. A program for agricultural workers in the United States (and their spouses and minor children) to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment. Provides a process for farm workers to seek Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) status—a temporary status for those who have worked at least 180 days in agriculture over the last 2 years. CAW status can be renewed indefinitely with continued farm work (at least 100 days per year).
Green card for current long-term workers. Those who want to stay can earn a path to a green card by paying a $1,000 fine and engaging in additional agricultural work: Workers with 10 years of agricultural work prior to the date of enactment must complete 4 additional years of such work. Workers with less than 10 years of agricultural work prior to the date of enactment must complete 8 additional years of such work.
Temporary workers. Reforms the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers.
Electronic Verification of the Agricultural Workforce. A mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment,
Here is another summary.