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He said his bill will put “farmers in the driver’s seat” when it comes to hiring guest workers.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte
Friday, April 26, 2013
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, whose chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee puts him at the center of the immigration debate, introduced legislation Friday to make it easier for farmers to hire foreign workers for seasonal jobs.
He said the bill — his first proposal since President Barack Obama and a bipartisan Senate group called for a sweeping reform of immigration law — “is one piece that brings us closer to solving the immigration puzzle.”
Goodlatte said it’s important to reform the whole system, but added “we must look at each of the individual issues within the larger system to ensure that we get immigration reform right.”
He said the nation’s current rules governing temporary agricultural guest workers puts an excessive regulatory burden on farmers and exposes them to frivolous lawsuit.
His bill would:
The bill also would set the first cap on the number of foreign agricultural guest workers who could be admitted, limiting the number to 500,000. In fiscal year 2011, there were 55,000 admitted, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued last year.
“By putting farmers in the driver’s seat rather than Washington bureaucrats, they will be better equipped to compete in the global economy and continue growing our crops,” Goodlatte said. “It is vital that American farmers have access to a workable guest worker program now so that they can continue putting food on Americans’ tables. We have to get this right so that farmers aren’t burdened with another failed guest worker program for decades to come.”
Virginia Organizing Chairwoman Sandra Cook said the bill didn’t address the real problems with immigration.
“It is a poorly disguised attempt to undermine the efforts of bipartisan congressional groups that have worked hard to at least put forward something comprehensive that addresses the concerns of Virginians,” she said.
Goodlatte also is introducing a bill to repeal the current paper-based I-9 system and replace it with a completely electronic work eligibility check.
Nearly 450,000 American employers voluntarily use the 17-year-old E-Verify electronic work eligibility check system.
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