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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

Agricultural Worker Program Act (H.R. 2690) Introduced in House with Strong Support

May 25, 2017
Press Release
Companion to Sen. Feinstein’s “Blue Card” bill would legalize farm workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) and 29 of his House Democratic colleagues introduced the Agricultural Worker Program Act (AWPA, H.R. 2690), a bill to legalize the immigration status of farm workers working in American agriculture.  The bill would create a program that would allow agricultural workers and their families to apply for a “Blue Card” that gives them legal status and work authorization if they show consistent employment in U.S. agriculture over the past two years, pay a fine, and pass a thorough background check.  A 3- to 5- year path to citizenship is provided to those who continue to work in agriculture for the requisite amount of time. The bill is the House companion to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill, S. 1034, introduced earlier this month, which currently has seven Senate co-sponsors.

In addition to Rep. Gutiérrez, the 29 original co-sponsors include Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Judy Chu (D-CA).  The complete list of original co-sponsors (alphabetical order): Nanette Barragán (CA); Earl Blumenauer (OR); Salud Carbajal (CA); Tony Cárdenas (CA); Judy Chu (CA); John Conyers (MI); Adriano Espaillat (NY); Dwight Evans (PA); Ruben Gallego (AZ); Vicente González (TX); Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ); Pramila Jayapal (WA); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); Zoe Lofgren (CA); Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM); Doris Matsui (CA); James McGovern (MA); Jerrold Nadler (NY); Grace Napolitano (CA); Jimmy Panetta (CA); Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA); Linda Sánchez (CA); Brad Schneider (IL); Albio Sires (NJ); Darren Soto (FL); Mike Thompson (CA); Juan Vargas (CA); Filemon Vela (TX); and Peter Welch (VT).

“Every day, the food we eat, the dairy products, the wine, the berries and veggies – it all passes through the hands of undocumented immigrants,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), who is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Immigration Taskforce of the CHC.  “Every American is complicit in the reality that we depend on agriculture, and agriculture depends on immigrants, but we have not allowed those workers to come here legally nor allowed them to work legally once they have been here.  So let’s put our agricultural industry and the families, farmers, and entrepreneurs in this critical industry on a legal footing and take them out of the black market.”

“Immigrant farm workers are not only the backbone of our nation’s agriculture industry, they and their families are the heart and soul of many rural communities,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20).  “They plant and harvest the food that goes on our dinner tables and contribute to the social, cultural, and historical fabric of our society.  If Congress continues to ignore our nation’s severe labor shortage, our agriculture industry will suffer, perishable produce will be left to rot in our fields, and families will see an increase in their grocery bills.  The people who help feed our families deserve this opportunity to step out of the shadows and fully participate in their communities. This bill is a positive step forward for both our farmers and farm workers.”

“It's no secret that U.S. farmers have long relied on undocumented workers to grow, pick, and produce American food,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). “There are simply not enough willing American workers to meet the country's agricultural labor needs.  Unfortunately, Trump’s immigration raids and executive orders have terrified agricultural workers and put our food supply at risk. This bill will give our professional farm workers the security and peace of mind they deserve and ensure our nation’s food producers have the workers they need.” 

“Nationwide, there are more than half a million immigrant farmworkers - a majority of which are undocumented - who do back-breaking work to feed our families,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), CHC Chairwoman. “Their contributions are critical to our national economy.  Despite this, farm workers lack many basic protections and legal status.  This legislation aligns our moral responsibility with our legal principles.  Moreover, it provides a fair labor system for hard working farmworkers and farmers, which ensures the stabilization and growth of our nation's billion dollar agriculture industry.  Ultimately, we must call on our colleagues in Congress to have the courage to modernize our outdated immigration system.”

“When my father arrived in the United States he found work as a field laborer picking potatoes,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29). “He supported my family, and it is because of him that I’m here today. Our economy relies on the hard-working immigrants who work in these fields.  Without them our agriculture industry wouldn’t function. It’s time for us to recognize their importance and work with them so they can achieve a legal status.  This, in turn, will continue to grow and strengthen our agriculture sector.  I am proud to join my colleagues in leading this legislation, and I hope we can move the ball forward on this issue.”

“Fixing our broken immigration system – as politicians from both sides of the aisle insist we must – takes more than a wall, a scare campaign, or a deportation force; it takes new laws that offer legal avenues to enter, stay, and contribute to our country”, said Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27).  “Farm workers, in particular, have it especially hard, working long hours in difficult conditions for little pay. And while we are happy to eat the literal fruits of their labor, we cannot be happy with a situation that forces them to live in fear and uncertainty about their future here. This bill fixes that by providing legal status to those we depend on to help feed our nation.”

“Agriculture is central to my district's economy and every day Imperial Valley farmers rely on undocumented workers to produce the food that feeds millions of people in the United States and around the world,” said Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51). “This bill is about guaranteeing much-needed fairness for undocumented farmworkers by allowing them to come out of the shadows and continue making positive contributions to our country and our economy.”


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