Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Feinstein Measure Establishing a Pilot Earned Adjustment Program for Agriculture Workers
Mar 27 2006
Washington, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved an amendment sponsored byU.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)that would establish apilot earned adjustment program for agriculture workers.
“The thrust of this proposal is to create a legalized workforce for the agriculture industry,” Senator Feinstein said. “This is a pilot earned adjustment program. It would sunset after 5 years. It’s a workable program. It will provide the agriculture industry with a legal workforce and offer agriculture workers a path to citizenship. So I’m hopeful that this proposal will receive broad, bipartisan support.”
Following is a summary of the bill.
- Pilot program to allow certain undocumented agricultural workers to legalize their immigration status in the United States and to modify the current H2A program.
- The first step requires that undocumented agricultural workers apply for a “blue card” if they can demonstrate that they have worked in American agriculture for at least 150 work days within the previoustwo years before 12/31/05.
- The second step requires that after a “blue card” holder can demonstrate that they have worked in American agriculture for an additional 150 work days per year for 3 years, or 100 work days per year for 5 years, they will then be eligible for a green card.
- Employment will be verified through employer issued itemized statements, pay stubs, W-2 forms, employer letters, contracts or agreements, employer sponsored health care, time cards or payment of taxes.
- This program will becapped at 1.5 million blue cards in fiveyears (without a per year cap) and sunset after five years.
- Individuals may participate in employment other than agriculture so long as the worker satisfies the 100 or 150 workdays each year.
- Blue card holders (including spouses and children) will be allowed to travel in and out of the United States.
- Spouses of blue card workers will be eligible to apply for their own work permit and their employment will not be limited to agricultural employment.
- Aliens participating in the program will be required to pay a fine of $500, show that they are current on their taxes, and that they have not been convicted of any crime that involves bodily injury, the threat of serious bodily injury, or harm to property in excess of $500.
- The Department of Homeland Security will determine the adequate application fee necessary to offset the costs of this pilot program.
- To avoid backlogs, aliens who receive a green card under this program will be exempt from the overall numerical limitations on visas (i.e., 675,000 visas) and the country numerical limitations for Mexico, India, China and the Philippines.
- H2A modifications shall be those contained in the AgJOBS bill and shall include a study to determine an appropriate cap.