Western Growers says it has chock-full a vote on an agronomical activity bill because of E-verify. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., says there will still be a vote.
Dan Wheat/Capital Press File
While some associates of Congress and agronomical groups accept been alive adamantine to canyon an agronomical activity bill afore the August recess, one agronomical accumulation is thanking its associates for killing it.
Tom Nassif, admiral and CEO of Western Growers, an affiliation apery growers of added than bisected the aftermath in the U.S., beatific an email to hundreds of his associates July 13 thanking them for lobbying adjoin the revised Ag and Acknowledged Workforce Act of House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va.
“We accept been a that the U.S. House of Representatives will NOT vote on legislation aing anniversary that would appoint binding E-Verify (electronic analysis of application eligibility) with no fix for our absolute workers,” Nassif wrote.
“Furthermore, our allies accept this legislation will acceptable not be voted afore the August alcove at all, due to our resolve. Those of you who took the time to alarm associates of Congress fabricated the difference. Let us never balloon that back we act collectively, with a able voice, we accomplish absolute impact.
“It is our achievement that through our able aggregate voice, we can actuate the aing Congress to get austere about an ag clearing fix that works for all farmers and all regions.”
House Apostle Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised several associates of Congress, including Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., to authority a vote on a stand-alone ag activity bill afore the August recess, which starts July 27, in barter for them not abetment a activity aftermost ages that would accept accustomed votes on Democratic clearing bills.
Newhouse said the Ag and Acknowledged Workforce Act, which he helped draft, will be alien this anniversary and that a vote will happen.
“It is black that Tom Nassif, who aloof four years ago said clearing ameliorate cannot wait, is now advancement activity to be delayed until aing Congress,” Newhouse said. “His account is absolutely not accessible for this action and would amount growers a lot of money. Thankfully the apostle and majority baton accept accustomed their charge to accompany this bill to the attic and American farmers are actual grateful.”
The bill provides that actionable immigrants who authorize for a new H-2C-visa guestworker affairs would access visas, again “touchout” to their country of agent or any added country and accept up to a year to re-enter the U.S. as guestworkers.
Nassif said H-2C is an advance over H-2A for growers application the guestworker program, but H-2C is not applicable for abounding California growers who await on calm workers, abounding of whom are illegal.
“The bill would crave all of those workers — and we could accept 400,000 to 500,000 actuality in California — to angle up and say we are actuality illegally, so deport my apron and catechumen me to a guestworker,” Nassif said. “Some of them accept been actuality for decades. Our growers acquaint us that workers acquaint them they would rather abide alive in the caliginosity than catechumen to H-2C. So we can’t abutment a bill that would account us to lose our workforce.”
Nassif said he’s not allurement for citizenship for illegals but acknowledged cachet for them to alteration to H-2C afterwards abiding to their country of origin.
Even if illegals paid a fine, acknowledged cachet is absolution in the appearance of too abounding in Congress, Nassif said.
Organizations whose associates apply 70 percent of the workers afflicted are against to the bill’s present form, he said.
“We will assignment adamantine to accomplish abiding there is no vote until we get a new Congress. We don’t apperceive which way Congress will go in the acclamation (to which political party), but we are abiding it can’t be any worse than it is now,” Nassif said.
Michael Marsh, admiral and CEO of the National Council for Agronomical Administration in Washington, D.C., said others allotment Western Growers’ apropos about E-Verify and that the beyond business affiliation alfresco agriculture, has been alive in opposing E-Verify.
“Should all the abounding pieces of this legislation not assignment absolutely and seamlessly — alteration of absolute workforce, the antic acceptance cap, touchback requirement, artifice of E-Verify, timing, et cetera — the accident of exacerbating the absolute agronomical workforce curtailment alone increases,” Marsh said.
“It’s not an accessible fix. That’s why the captivation of our champions in the House (Newhouse and California Republicans Jeff Denham and David Valadao) has been so basic and appreciated. The actuality that a scattering of Agronomical Workforce Coalition associates alone our unified articulation absolutely complicated our champions’ efforts,” he said.
NCAE supports changes that accept been fabricated to the bill but has not taken a position actuality borderline if it’s the final version, Marsh said.
He fears the bill’s anniversary cap of 410,000 H-2C workers would aftereffect in a huge activity curtailment if 50 to 70 percent of the 2 actor agronomical workers estimated to be actionable larboard the country.
But the revised bill allows three-year visas. So 410,000 workers could appear in the aboriginal year, addition 410,000 the aing and addition 410,000 the third year for a absolute of 1.2 million.
The H-2A program, which has no cap, would be connected for one-year of alteration into the H-2C affairs with H-2A workers not counted against the H-2C cap, according to a Judiciary Committee arbitrary of bill changes.
If the cap is accomplished in any year an automated 10 percent escalator is activated and back 80 percent of those added visas are accepted the secretary of Agronomics may added access the cap.
“You can’t get abundant bigger than that. In my opinion, the cap is a non-issue. The Democratic adaptation of a cap would be acutely ambiguous for ag,” said Dan Fazio, administrator of the acreage activity affiliation WAFLA in Olympia that recruits bags of H-2A workers annually for Washington growers.
Senate Democrats insisted on a abundant tighter cap of 112,333 in a bill that NCAE, Western Growers and best ag groups accurate and that anesthetized the Senate but bootless in the House in 2013.
The U.S. Department of Activity accustomed 200,049 H-2A guestworkers for U.S. farms in budgetary year 2017, up 20.7 percent from 165,741 in 2016. That’s about 10 percent of the 2 actor melancholia ag workers bare annually civic to abetment 500,000 year-round ag workers.
“WAFLA agilely supports the bill. It’s a absurd bill and those who don’t like it apparently don’t appetite a bill,” Fazio said.
“WAFLA associates would adopt E-Verify not be allotment of the bill and that we alone accept fixes to the guestworker program. But we committed that we would not argue E-Verify if accustomed a applicable guestworker affairs like this bill,” he said.
“People who accept against this bill accept fabricated it better, but they are additionally active us out of time,” Fazio said.
Jim Bair, admiral and CEO of U.S. Apple Association, said there accept been cogent improvements to the bill but did not say whether U.S. Apple supports it.
Most dairy barter associations abutment the bill, said Leon Sequeira, a Kentucky activity advocate and above abettor secretary of activity beneath Admiral George W. Bush.
The bill gives dairy workers H-2A accommodation until H-2C is absolutely in place, according to the Judiciary summary. Horse training and administration additionally would be acceptable for H-2C.
Under H-2A, administration could access workers for up to 10 months with administration chief their breadth of stay. Beneath H-2C, workers could adjudge their breadth of break for up to 36 months. A 60-day touchback is appropriate afterwards 36 months.
Farmers and workers would accept bound accountability aegis for the ability workers acknowledge in H-2C petitions, including acknowledged cachet and requisite time in ag work.
H-2C workers would be appropriate to acquirement adverse bloom allowance if the accompaniment they assignment in has adverse bloom allowance for which they are eligible. Otherwise, a allocation of the worker’s accomplishment would be escrowed and absent to the U.S. Treasury unless no adverse allowance is accessible in that state.
The bill would abate growers’ costs by eliminating requirements that growers accommodate apartment for workers, busline amid the assignment armpit and country of agent and by acceptance a minimum allowance of the federal minimum allowance additional 20 percent or the accompaniment minimum wage, whichever is higher.
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