Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Thursday, February 10, 2005

CRAIG JOINS IN INTRODUCING BIPARTISAN FARMWORKER IMMIGRATION REFORM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig, along with a bipartisan group of legislators and representatives of a broad-based farm workers and growers coalition, announced the introduction of the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security (AgJOBS) Act of 2005 today.

AgJOBS builds upon years of discussion and ideas from growers, farm worker advocates, Latino and immigration issue groups and intends to provide for a more stable, secure, safe, and legal American agricultural work force and food supply.

“Our country’s current agricultural labor system and immigration laws are seriously flawed,” Craig said. “This bill is a balanced, practical, and achievable approach to resolve these flaws, and intends to prevent a growing crisis that threatens American agriculture, workers, and consumers. AgJOBS is comprehensive, landmark, and bipartisan and hopes to provide long term solutions for the serious problems facing farmers and farm workers alike.”

The AgJOBS bill would provide a two-step solution: For the long term, the currently broken and cumbersome H-2A legal guest worker program would be overhauled and made more streamlined, practical, and secure. To provide workforce stability in the short term, on a one-time-only basis, experienced, trusted workers with a significant work history in American agriculture would be allowed to stay here legally and earn adjustment to legal status.

Of the United States’ 1.6 million agricultural workers, more than half is made up of workers not legally authorized to work here – according to a conservative estimate by the Department of Labor, based on self-disclosure in worker surveys. Responsible private estimates run to 75 percent or higher. These workers are among the most vulnerable persons in our country, and know they must live in hiding, not attract attention at work, and move furtively. They cannot claim the most basic legal rights and protections. They are vulnerable to predation and exploitation. At the same time, knowing who is in this workforce and bringing them into a legal system will help our homeland security and ensure a safe, secure and American-grown food supply for our family tables.

NOTE: This release and additional information on AgJOBS is accessible on the web at http://craig.senate.gov/releases/pr021005a.htm.

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