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United Fresh has lauded the Senate’s approval of a recent comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which includes agricultural labor provisions that secure access to a stable, legal workforce.
“We applaud the Senate for seizing the opportunity to enact immigration reform that is desperately needed in the fresh produce industry and many other sectors of agriculture,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO. “This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain, and boost the economy. We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”
Several key agricultural labor provisions are included in the bill, including current undocumented farm workers being eligible to obtain legal status through a new Blue Card program if they choose to remain working in agriculture; a new agricultural guest worker program will be established with both “At-Will” and “Contact-Based” work options; all guest workers will be paid an agreed-upon wage under the terms of the agreement; and a visa cap for the first five years of the program for current workers participating in the Blue Card program. The new program will be administered by the Department of Agriculture.
"I applaud the Senate for passing comprehensive bipartisan legislation today to overhaul American's immigration system for the first time since 1986,” said Peter J. Larkin, NGA president and CEO. “While no bill is ever perfect this legislation is an important step in the right direction by embracing comprehensive reform that addresses the real challenges facing our nation today, while ensuring protections for employers acting in good faith.”
“Chain restaurants are located in every local community in America and are innovators and job creators. Not only do they provide an entryway to the job market for millions, but also the opportunity for long-term careers,” said Rob Green, executive director of The National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR). “On behalf of its members, NCCR has long-advocated for sensible immigration reform and today’s vote is a significant step towards that goal.”
The House of Representatives is expected to take up immigration reform in July.