H-2A and Immigration Reform Update

May 30, 2018
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The U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Labor, State and Homeland Security are working together to revamp the H-2A agricultural guestworker visa program. Currently, the H-2A program is the only visa available for agricultural guest workers.

The Trump administration is seeking to modernize the H-2A visa program to be responsive to stakeholder concerns and to deepen confidence in the program as a source of legal and verified labor for agriculture. The joint effort will seek to reduce, "...cumbersome bureaucracy and ensuring adequate protections for U.S. workers," the departments said in a joint statement. The administration's plan will also encourage farmers to use the E-Verify program, which allows employers to check an employee's work authorization.

The temporary agricultural visa program is currently operated through the Labor and Homeland Security departments. The agencies did not specify when proposed changes could be expected, but said they, "...look forward to delivering a more responsive program soon."

Meanwhile, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) continues to push for passage of his immigration reform bill (H.R. 4760), which includes a proposal to replace the existing H-2A program with a new H-2C program. The proposed H-2C program would provide visas for current undocumented agricultural workers already living and working in the U.S.,and would allow for future guestworkers. This bill has been at the center of debate in the House and its supporters played a role in the failure of the House Farm Bill (H.R. 2). A vote on this legislation is anticipated by the third week in June.

In addition, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) has introduced a resolution (H.R. 774) to use an obscure House rule called the "queen of the hill" to hold votes on four different immigration bills -including H.R. 4760. It is unclear if H.R. 774 will garner enough support to force a vote on the House floor.

To learn more about the administration's H-2A modernization efforts, visit:


To learn more about H.R. 4760 and the proposed H-2C Program, visit: http://link.calstrawberry.com/d64dc

To learn more about H.R. 774, visit: http://link.calstrawberry.com/qnf34c2

The commission is engaged with Federal representatives and staff on both issues and we will continue to provide timely updates.