U.S. Representative

Dennis A. Ross

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Ross Introduces Legal Agricultural Workforce Act

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WASHINGTON, January 15, 2013 | Katie Hughes | comments
U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) introduced the Legal Agricultural Workforce Act yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation will provide for a new type of Visa, the W-Visa, to allow non-U.S. citizens to legally participate in the agriculture economy of the United States while continuing to provide protections for American workers and taxpayers.

“We have a serious need for assistance on our farms and groves,” said Ross. “This legislation provides an opportunity for non-U.S. citizens to participate in our thriving agriculture sector while providing protections for U.S. citizen agricultural employees.”

The Legal Agricultural Workforce Act:
•    Establishes a market-based nonimmigrant agricultural worker program administered by the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security
o    Program allows for worker portability across employers enrolled in the program
o    Allows admission for nonimmigrant agricultural workers for 10 months in any 12-month period
o    Numerical limitations on the issuance of nonimmigrant visas will be based on historical employment needs of agricultural employers
•    Provides protections for U.S. citizen agricultural workers
o    Employers must recruit US workers before applying to enroll in the nonimmigrant agricultural visa program
o    Employers may not displace active U.S. workers
o    Preferences must be provided for qualified U.S. workers
o    Nonimmigrant workers may not be employed to cover positions of employees engaged in labor disputes
•    Includes security protections
o    Nonimmigrant agricultural workers may not enter the country if they violated a term of their previous entry within the last 3 years
o    Any nonimmigrant agricultural worker who commits a crime in the U.S. shall be ineligible to retain their status, and will be required to leave the country
o    Disqualifies nonimmigrant agricultural visa recipients from federal financial assistance
•    Funding information
o    Trust funds established by the Secretary of Agriculture and financed by the employers and nonimmigrant agricultural employees will finance the administration of the program
o    Trust funds will also provide a monetary incentive for nonimmigrant agricultural workers to return to their country of origin once their visas expire
Click here to read the text of H.R. 242, the Legal Agricultural Workforce Act.
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