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VOTE RECOMMENDATION: Farm Workforce Modernization Act Offers Hope and Legal Status to Farmworkers and Their Families

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America’s Voice Urges YES Vote

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038) cleared the House Rules Committee Tuesday and is expected to be debated and voted on in the House Wednesday.  America’s Voice urges all Members of Congress to vote for this historic, bipartisan legislation to legalize farmworkers and their families in a way that strengthens the American economy and its agricultural sector. The bill was introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and has 62 co-sponsors from 24 states, including 25 Republicans. A summary of the bill is here. The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Farmworkers feed America and every day they go into fields and nurseries growing and picking the food and products that make our meals possible. It is no secret that most of the workers in agriculture are undocumented, which puts them, their families, their coworkers and honest employers at risk. The tasks are hard, the conditions can be brutal, the work is skilled and the pay is often low. This legislation seeks to put working men and women who are vital to the U.S. economy on a legal footing, protecting workers and their families from deportation and giving them a clear path to permanent residency, which would allow them to apply for eventual citizenship.

It is significant that the legislation is the product of extended negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, growers and farmworker unions and advocates, between conservatives and progressives. The outcome of these negotiations is a balanced bill that does not load on massive enforcement or detention spending or new border security spending as is often the custom on Capitol Hill. Rather, this bill is clear in the need to legalize the existing workforce and provide a legal flow of workers into agriculture in the future, while ensuring safeguards for workers and employers.

The agricultural industry turbocharges the U.S. economy, but it has suffered under this President from trade wars, tariffs, foreclosures, climate change and other factors. Stabilizing and modernizing the agricultural workforce is one way to address these challenges. Members of Congress have an opportunity to add their votes and voices to passing this legislation, which will send a strong message that working people — even those who are undocumented — are an important part of our nation’s success and their work should be honored, protected by our labor laws and legal.