House passed H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021

On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, the House passed H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021, with the support of 30 Republicans.  Todd Starnes refers to H.R. 1603 as amnesty for farm workers – “It would offer legal status for 1 to 1.5 million migrant farm workers and immigrants who have worked in the U.S. Illegally.” 

On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, the House passed H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021, with the support of 30 Republicans.  Todd Starnes refers to H.R. 1603 as amnesty for farm workers –

 

“It would offer legal status for 1 to 1.5 million migrant farm workers and immigrants who have worked in the U.S. Illegally.” 

 

The purported purpose of H.R. 1603 is to “amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for terms and conditions for nonimmigrant workers performing agricultural labor or services, and for other purposes.”  The bill addresses: (1) alien farm workers, (2) H2A workers, and (3) E-Verify. Only the first provision is addressed below.

With respect to “alien farm workers,” the bill:

  1. Authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “grant certified agricultural worker status” to an alien who submits a completed application, who has performed agricultural labor or services in the United States for at least 1,035 hours (or 180 work days) during the 2-year period preceding the date of the introduction of this Act; and who, for other reasons, maybe be inadmissible to the United States or deportable from the United States.
  2. Authorizes the Secretary to provide the alien applicant with a document acknowledging the receipt of such application that will also serve as interim proof of the alien’s authorization to accept employment in the United States.
  3. Authorizes the Secretary to allow the alien to remain in the United States, even If the alien does not meet the required period of time of agricultural labor or services, but is eligible under the H2A program, upon approval of a petition submitted by a sponsoring employer. The alien must have performed at least 575 hours (or 100 work days) of agricultural labor or services during the 3-year period preceding the date of the introduction of this Act.
  4. Provides that certified agricultural worker status (and those of his/her dependents) shall be valid for 51⁄2 years beginning on the date of approval, with recertification for additional 5 ½ years (unlimited). 
  5. Authorizes the Secretary to change the status of an alien from that of a certified agricultural worker to that of a lawful permanent resident if the alien submits a completed application, and the Secretary determines that—(1) the alien performed agricultural labor or services of not less than 575 hours (or 100 work days) each year for at least 10 years prior to the date of the enactment of this Act and for at least 4 years in certified agricultural worker status; or (2) if fewer than 10 years prior to the date of the enactment of this Act and for at least 8 years in certified agricultural worker status; and (3) the alien has not become ineligible for certified agricultural worker status. The spouse or child of a certified agricultural worker are eligible also for lawful permanent residence.
  6. Authorizes the Secretary to credit the alien applicant with not more than 575 hours (or 100 work days) of agricultural labor or service if the alien cannot meet the time requirements due to “extraordinary circumstances.”  These include: pregnancy, parental leave, illness, disease, disabling injury, or physical limitation of the alien; injury, illness, disease, or other special needs of the alien’s child or spouse; severe weather conditions that prevented the alien from engaging in agricultural labor or services; reduced hours of employment or other restrictions associated with COVID–19; or an unjust termination from agricultural employment and the alien was unable to find alternative agricultural employment after a reasonable job search.

An employer who hired an illegal alien may not face civil or criminal prosecution if documentary employment records from that employer are used by the alien to prove employment for the requisite periods in support of his application for certified agricultural worker status, unless fraudulent.  And finally, all aliens granted certified agricultural worker status (and their dependents) will be assigned social security account numbers.  

In the 117th Congress, Democrats don’t cross the aisle to support Republican introduced legislation, except in minor and superficial ways. Somehow, Republicans seem to find a way to put aside their deeply held fundamental conservative values to support Democrat legislation.  What’s up with this?  And, of all things, today’s message from the NRCC screamed –

“Our borders are at a breaking point and House Democrats just rammed through MASS AMNESTY for illegal immigrants!  Stand up to the open-border Democrats and we’ll match you 500% for 2 hours….”

Yeah, ok!  But, wouldn’t we, shouldn’t we, also stand up to the 30 open-border House Republicans who went along with the ramming?  To be fair, these Republican House members all seem to be from farming states where farm workers may be in critical need.  But amnesty for 1 to 1.5 million illegal farm workers?  Come on man!  The question remains!  How can we criticize Democrats on this issue but not Republicans?  Just asking!

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  • Amanda Mercer
    published this page in Blog 2021-03-20 11:25:57 -0400