Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nation's farm states push competing guest-worker bills

"Because the bill slashes wages and worker protections, it actually creates the incentive for employers to replace their current American workers with much cheaper (foreign) workers," warned Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.

By Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers
September 8, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Half a million foreign farmworkers could gain visas annually under a new plan that some U.S. growers believe doesn't go far enough.

Entering a political minefield, the conservative chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has written a bill that gives growers some of what they want in a farmworker visa program. Housing and transportation requirements are eased. Farmworker lawsuits are limited. Dairies, for the first time, become eligible.

"If we are really going to help American growers in the long term, we need to provide them a workable guest-worker program that will help them hire a legal workforce," declared Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. [...]

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