Ag workers, Dreamer issues addressed in recent immigration bills

| May 10, 2021 | Immigration |

Undocumented immigrants received some reassurance in March when the U.S. House – along party lines – passed two bills that would provide legal status for certain groups that live and work in the country. U.S. citizenship would be within reach of immigrants that include agriculture workers and “Dreamers” – those brought unlawfully into the country as children.

The development marks a sharp contrast that the Biden administration has taken toward immigration compared with the Trump era. Although the bills – the Farm Workforce Modernization Act and the American Dream and Promise Act — were passed on March 18 with most Democrats voting in favor of it, the legislation faces a stiff challenge in the U.S. Senate. Republicans there remain opposed to them.

Green cards, eligible for citizenship

The farm workforce bill focuses on agriculture workers illegally in the country. The U.S. has become reliant on such workers at many places, including dairy farms, strawberry fields and apple orchards. Reports estimate that undocumented farm workers make up about half of the 2.4 million agriculture workers in the U.S. The bill declares that certain workers would be allowed to secure green cards after paying a find and continuing to work in the agriculture industry for up to eight years.

The other bill pertains to the immigrants dubbed “Dreamers,” the group protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Implemented in 2012 by the Obama administration, the plan applies to the estimated 2.5 million “Dreamers” who arrived in the U.S. when they were children. The recent bill passed by the U.S. House would provide Dreamers with the chance to secure eligibility for citizenship.

The immigration issue continues to confound U.S. lawmakers. However, these two pieces of legislation represent solid steps for agriculture workers and Dreamers to gain the right to remain in the country.