On Wednesday, July 10th, House Republicans will convene a special meeting to determine their position and strategy on immigration reform. Since Republicans make up a majority of the House of Representatives, this meeting will have a profound influence on the future of immigration reform. If Republicans think they can get away without passing a bill, they won’t do one. Two weeks ago, the Senate passed immigration reform with a robustly bipartisan 68-32 vote, and now the big question is what the House will do. So far, House Committees have approved five bills, none of which create a path to citizenship, and all of which contain provisions that would negatively impact our community members.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, ( R. Virginia – 6th) Chair of the House Judiciary Committee has a bill HR 1773 which would re-establish the prior bracero program (guest workers) with many of its worst features, tying the work visa to a single farm corporation, company housing, controlled wages, a external “savings” bank, and more. Goodlatte has also announced that legislation coming out of his House panel will not include a pathway to citizenship
WHAT IS THE AGRICULTURAL GUESTWORKER ACT? The “AG” Act, H.R. 1773, would replace the current H-2A agricultural guestworker program with a new H-2C program. It fails to provide any opportunity for farmworkers to pursue a roadmap to citizenship. Instead, they would be required to return to their home country and could only come back to the U.S. as guestworkers, another second-class status. Families would be separated as spouses and children are provided no status. H.R. 1773 would eliminate nearly all protections currently in the H-2A program, allowing for mass exploitation, wage cuts and unsafe working conditions. The bill would reduce wages and withhold 10% of guestworkers’ meager wages from their paychecks. To apply for a return of their earnings, H-2C workers would have to travel to a U.S. consulate in their country of origin within 30 days of the expiration of their visa and demonstrate compliance with the terms of the H-2C program. The “AG” Act would also bar federal legal aid programs from representing H-2C guestworkers and discourage workers from filing grievances by mandating they take expensive actions prior to filing a lawsuit.
From: Coalition on Human Needs.
For more on H-2A, see, Close to Slavery, Guest Worker Programs in the United States, by The Southern Poverty Law Center. http://www.splcenter.org
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Labor History, Organizing Tagged: | Bob Goodlatte, Foreign worker, immigration reform, Senate, United States, United States House Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives, Virginia