Many employers use immigration law to take advantage of their workers. This is often the case in farming because many workers are undocumented. The immigration reform bill aims to change that.
Farm workers face difficult conditions. It isn’t just the low pay and long hours, but there have been cases of employers physically abusing their workers.
Whenever employees want to organize against unfair working conditions, managers threaten their employees with deportation, telling them they would never be able to return and would therefore not be able to take care of their families back home.
If the immigration reform bill passes, these issues will be addressed through two new legal immigration processes.
The immigration bill would create a path to citizenship for farm workers. The Blue Card would offer legal status first. After five years of Blue Card status, farm workers would be eligible for a Green Card.
The immigration bill would also create a new visa category for farm workers, the W visa. The W Visa is for temporary farm workers and lasts for three years.
These two changes would offer labor protections currently absent from the farming industry.
The immigration reform bill faces hostility from the House of Representatives. It is likely that the bill will not pass in the next few weeks. However, protecting the rights of farm workers is a big issue.
The farming industry depends greatly on an immigrant workforce. In Wisconsin, for example, about 40 percent of dairy workers are immigrants. About 90 percent of those workers are from Mexico.
More on Immigration Reform:
- Immigration Reform 2013
- Gang of 8
- Earned Citizenship
- Streamlining Immigration
- Strengthening Border Security
- More Accountability for Employers Hiring Undocumented Immigrants