Published online: May 18, 2009
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Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressmen Adam Putnam (R-FL) and Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced, in the Senate and House, the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security (AgJOBS) Act. AgJOBS is a bipartisan, compromise bill that is the result of years of negotiations among farmworkers, growers and Members of Congress. The legislation has two parts: 1) an earned legalization program for unauthorized farmworkers who meet certain eligibility requirements; and 2) a revision of the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program. Numerous organizations from across the political spectrum believe that the bill is necessary to create a stable agricultural workforce, improve the lives of farmworkers and give employers access to the workers they need.
AgJOBS also serves as a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform. AgJOBS demonstrates a successful model for compromise where workers and employers have come together to resolve their differences. The dysfunctional U.S. immigration system is currently standing in the way of addressing deeper structural problems that impact U.S. workers and U.S. competitiveness in a globalized market. The Immigration Policy Center has produced a fact sheet about the current challenges found at the intersection of immigration policy and agriculture and why addressing these issues is critical to the nation's economy.