Latin American conservatives are supporting House legislation that would create a guest-worker program to address a shortage of labor in the agriculture industry and make it easier for foreign migrant workers to enter the country legally.
The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles called Monday for passage of a bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, that would amend the H-2A agriculture visa program so U.S. farmers can recruit more workers.
The partnership said the Smith bill, “American Specialty Agriculture Act” would create a more “effective mechanism” to legally bring in more foreign workers to help farmers “meet their production goals.”
“There is a serious labor shortage in agriculture. It is almost impossible for farmers to find local workers who want to work in farms, on jobs that are labor intensive and physically draining,” said partnership Executive Director Alfonso Aguilar.
“The new program would make it easier and more affordable for employers to recruit and hire the foreign labor they need by doing away with many of the onerous requirements of the current agriculture visa program and by entrusting its management to the Department of Agriculture, rather than the Department of Labor, which has historically worked against the best interests of agri-business,” Aguilar said.
He said the bill would also help resolve some of the immigration problems associated with undocumented workers by offering “thousands of Latin American workers the opportunity to enter the country in a legal and dignified way.”
“This bill does not intend to solve all the problems of our immigration system, but it is one first step towards a more rational immigration policy,” Aguilar said.
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