Thursday, June 21, 2018

Farmers increasingly go the legal route to get workers, through temporary visas; now they want the limit doubled

"The number of migrant workers in the U.S. on temporary agricultural visas is up 159 percent since 2011, as U.S. farmers seek replacements for the thousands of undocumented farmworkers scared away by anti-immigrant policies," Margaret Newkirk and Michael Sasso report for Bloomberg.

Many farmers once ignored the H2-A visa program because it was an expensive, bureaucratic bother and illegal laborers were plentiful. But as undocumented immigration (especially for farm jobs) has slacked off and immigration raids have increased, going the legal route has become more attractive. While most of the 1 million farm laborers in the U.S., are still undocumented more than 200,000 H2-A visas were issued in 2017, and numbers are on track to surpass that number this year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"Now the farm lobby is pushing for changes that will allow farmers to double the number of legal immigrants, permit them to stay longer and cut the overall costs associated with using them," Newkirk and Sasso report. "Some of those changes were originally in one of two immigration overhauls moving through Congress, although farming advocates say they don’t know if they’ll still be there when the U.S. House votes this week."

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