HR 4760 Update
A quick update about HR 4760, “Securing America’s Future Act,” Representative Goodlatte’s bill that incorporates the proposed H-2C program: Though there has not been significant movement, as of February 26, 2018, HR 4760 has 95 total cosponsors. Agricultural organizations across the nation are still divided as to whether or not to fully support the bill, as there are still concerns about the viability of several provisions of the H-2C program. In fact, a number of agricultural groups sent a letter to House Leadership on Monday expressing these sentiments. For a brief summary on the H-2C program and its progress through the House, see our previous e-blasts on the topic here and here.
Trump Administration Sues California Over Sanctuary State Legislation
Tuesday, the United States Department of Justice brought legal action against the State of California, Governor Jerry Brown, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The preliminary statement of the Complaint claims that certain provisions of California law – AB 450, SB 54, and AB 103 – are preempted by federal law, and the U.S. seeks to invalidate and preliminarily and permanently enjoin enforcement of these provisions.
The U.S. asserts that it has undoubted, preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters derived from the Constitution and other acts of Congress, stating that California does not have the authority to enforce laws that discriminate against federal immigration enforcement efforts. We will keep you updated on the progress of this suit, as it pertains to federal versus state rights regarding immigration enforcement policies.
Farmers and Farm Employees Speak to Legislators about Immigration Policy
Last week, the California Farm Bureau Federation (“CFBF”) accompanied a group of farm employers and employees to discuss immigration policy needs with members of Congress. According to an article published in the CFBF’s Ag Alert, this unified approach surprised certain Congressmembers, potentially being the first joint employer/employee congressional meetings on immigration in many years. In the words of CFBF Federal Policy Manager Josh Rolph, “It’s not a Republican-protecting-business or Democrat-protecting-worker issue. Everyone is suffering.”
The article went on to explain that the main focus of the trip was the Agricultural Guestworker Act (“AG Act”) and its incorporation into HR 4760. As it currently stands, CFBF representatives consider H-2C unworkable due to the imposition of a cap and the “touchback” provision that would require those working in the U.S. who wish to work under the H-2C visa to return to their countries of origin before applying. The article quoted trip participant Wesley Van Camp of Tanimura & Antle, saying, “We have made a significant investment in recruiting and retaining employees to work in agriculture…Our experienced domestic employees make an extraordinary contribution to the productivity and efficiency of our operations. They are irreplaceable.”
The group was invited to return to Washington, D.C., to continue those conversations, and the CFBF representatives, in turn, invited members of Congress to see California’s farms firsthand.
Labor Unions Pushing Mexico’s Labor Secretary for Protections for H-2A Workers
Frontreras, a public radio station multimedia collaboration across the southwestern United States, recently published an article describing actions labor unions are taking to influence Mexico’s part in the negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). According to the article, President of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee Baldemar Velasquez met with Mexican Labor Secretary Roberto Campa Cifrián last week and requested that, as part of ongoing NAFTA discussions, protections similar to the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act be extended to workers under the H-2A program.