Posted on March 15, 2021

Democrats Tie Amnesty to Labor Giveaway to Agriculture Employers

Neil Munro, Breitbart, March 8, 2021

The Democrat-led Farm Workforce Modernization Act 0f 2021 offers a flood of cheap labor in agriculture and provides a pathway to citizenship to 1.5 million illegal farm workers.

GOP support for the bill would be a suicide pact, Rosemary Jenks, policy director at NumbersUSA, told Breitbart News.

“It would be a ridiculous short-term view of their own personal self-interest —  they should be looking five years out, 10 years out, but they’re looking at tomorrow and the 2022 election,” she said. “They will be accepting the end of two-party government,” she added

So far, the bill’s lone GOP cosponsor is Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), who owns orchards in Washington state.

In contrast, a similar 2019 bill won support from more than 34 GOP legislators, including Newhouse, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH).

Eight of the 34 supporters in 2019 did not return to Congress in 2021, including Colorado’s Rep. Scott Tipton, who was defeated in a primary by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).

Only two Democrats are listed as cosponsors of the bill with Newhouse, California Democrats Jimmy Panetta and Jim Costa.

The bill is structured as a giveaway to a wide variety of food-industry employers — and it even includes a measure that would cut the wages paid to the next wave of foreign farmworkers who arrive with H-2A work visas.

According to a joint statement from Newhouse and Rep Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the pro-migration immigration lawyer who chairs the House’s subcommittee on immigration:

American agriculture is desperately in need of a legal, reliable workforce. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a solution – negotiated in good faith by agriculture groups, labor representatives, and Members on both sides of the aisle – that will do just that. As one of only a few farmers in Congress, I understand the invaluable contributions our producers and farmworkers make to our nation’s unparalleled agriculture industry … We must act now to provide certainty to farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers across the country.


Farm employers are currently able to import an unlimited number of H-2A temporary workers each year. In 2020, employers imported more than 200,000 one-year seasonal H-2As workers, including some skilled machinery operators from South Africa.

Current law also looks away from employers who hire illegal migrants, often via subcontractors. Roughly one million illegals are estimated to work at least part-time in the agriculture sector.

This huge replacement workforce has pushed many Americans out of the agriculture sector, lowered wages, reduced investment in machinery, and reduced spending in many towns.

The Democrats’ amnesty bill would supercharge the population shift from rural areas to towns, said Jenks.

The population shift would include many now-illegal farmworkers, who would move with their families to towns as soon as they get amnesty, she said. The process would first convert the illegals to “Certified Agriculture Workers,” who could buy citizenship by working at sub-par wages for the agriculture sector.

Once existing workers are naturalized, they will flee to better-paid jobs in the cities, she said. The farm companies would then replace their current illegal workforce with many new H-2A workers, at wages below the average wages paid in the rest of the economy. These new workers can then be naturalized, creating a constant cycle.

The proposed Workforce Modernization Act allows farm employers to offer green cards to 40,000 workers — plus their families each year. The dangled offer of citizenship for perhaps 200,000 foreign workers, spouses, and kids each year would encourage more poor foreigners to take the H-2A jobs in place of Americans.

Foreign workers would also be cheaper for agribusinesses because the bill would disconnect H-2A wages from the national economy, roll back housing requirements, and also provide federal funds to help house seasonal migrant workers.

The bill also creates a new category of visa workers who can switch jobs between agriculture employers. Workers in the “Portable H-2A Program” would be able to compete directly against Americans in the agriculture sector. The program would start out with 10,000 workers.


The new bill would also allow canneries, packers, meat processors, and urban greenhouses to import H-2As instead of hiring Americans, illegal migrants, or refugees. {snip}


The agriculture amnesty “is a special interest handout … it’s government-sanctioned serfdom,” said Rob Law, the legislative and regulatory director at the Center for Immigration Studies and former policy chief of Trump’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. “This immigration bill is far more harmful [to rural communities] than any other provision Congress would ever give our rural communities,” he said, adding:

It completely forecloses on job opportunities for rural Americans. Are they supposed to learn how to code or build solar panels? Their livelihood is in the rural community, and the importation of a permanent foreign workforce will shut them out entirely. The [rural] towns will eventually collapse. The tax base of citizens will be depleted, while the schools, hospitals, and other public facilities will get overrun by the needs of the foreign-born workforce. Americans will leave, further straining the very limited resources in those communities.