NTF Issue paper: illegal17.doc. 11-19.

. Nebraska boasts a vast agriculture industry with hardworking farmers, ranchers, and processors who contribute greatly to our state economy. Most farmers offer competitive wages and satisfactory working conditions to attract legal Nebraska farm workers. However, a few operations seek to save money by breaking the law and hiring illegal aliens who they underpay and require to work long hours. A very conservative estimate is that 50% of U.S. farm workers are here illegally. Instead of helping the plight of these abused workers, congressional liberals seek to simply give them amnesty, so that scheming employers can continue to victimize them.

. Congressional liberals and their political allies once again are pitching legislation to offer amnesty to another category of illegal aliens. HR 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, sponsored by liberal Cong. Zoe Lofgren (CA.) and Dan Newhouse (Wash.), would offer amnesty to more than 2.1 million illegal alien farm workers, expand the H-2A visa program, and add 40,000 green card work permits. As a sop, sponsors added an E-Verify provision to verify identity and work authorization but applying only to farm workers and phasing in slowly. This verification program would include generous appeals processes for non-confirmations of eligibility. Employers would have 15 months after the end of an employee application period to implement E-Verify, allowing illegals to work undiscovered for months. The House Judiciary Committee voted to advance the bill to the full House. These illegals would become eligible for a new protected status called Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW), shielding them from deportation, with no cap on numbers. The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) could grant CAW status to applying illegal aliens otherwise deportable. CAW status is valid for 5 1/2 years with possible extension. DHS would accept applications only for 18 months after the bill goes into effect, however, with option to extend for an additional year. Illegals with pending applications cannot face detaining or deportation and are authorized to work until a final DHS deliberation made. DHS also may grant protected status to spouses and children. Illegals who have worked in ag for at least 10 years previous to the legislation enactment must work under CAW status for 4 more years before obtaining a green card. Illegals who worked for fewer than 10 years previous to enactment must work at least 8 more years under CAW status. All supposedly must prove employment in U.S. agriculture for at least 100 work days over the last 2 years. Applicants must begin paying applicable federal taxes and application fee.

. This bill permanently creates a new housing program that offers financial aid for rural rental housing and rental assistance for illegal alien tenants. The USDA also would provide subsidies, including funding for insuring loans and grants for new farm worker housing for illegal alien workers.

. The H-2A program is an expansive visa system that permits farmers to hire seasonal workers. The bill allows 20,000 new H-2A visas for full year employment, 50% going to dairy farmers, a sector now excluded, because it does not classify as seasonal work. Congress could raise the 20,000 cap after 10 years. Count on leftist groups to lobby to expand the number of visas beyond the initial 20,000. HR 5038 also permits 10,000 portable H-2As for workers for employment anywhere instead of with a specific employer. Normally, H-2A workers cannot revise their status and apply for legal permanent residency, but with visas under this bill, they could enter a pipeline for such unskilled migrants to access citizenship. The ag sector continually requests permanent, long-term wage rate relief instead of the unpredictable negative effect wage rate that H-2A employers must currently pay. This change would help farmers plan for the next growing season without facing increases of 6.2% like in FY 2019. HR 5038 fails to provide long term stability in wage determinations. H-2A employers have asked for litigation reform that protects against frivolous lawsuits and provides an efficient way to resolve employee legitimate complaints. Alarmingly, HR 5038 does precisely the opposite, subjecting H-2A users to lawsuits in federal court. The ag industry has asked Congress to provide access to the H-2A program by all sectors of agriculture. This bill, however, includes mainly the dairy industry and excludes other important sectors like meat and poultry processing, forestry, and aquaculture. Regarding unauthorized farm workers who have not worked enough days to qualify, additional H-2A visas available for those who have worked for a lower threshold of at least 100 days over the last 2 years. Aliens no longer need to reapply for a new visa every year.

. The real intent of this bill means to provide a path to citizenship and voting for a huge number of illegal immigrants who work in agriculture, along with their families. Very difficult to determine lengths of employment for illegal workers, which would lead to massive fraud. The bill promotes fraudulent applications because of its extremely low document standards of verification and the ability to withdraw a knowingly false application without prejudice. This amnesty would only encourage more illegal immigration into our states and solidify the ag sector reliance on cheap foreign labor. The bill allows aliens with multiple DUI convictions and charges to obtain amnesty. It forgives Social Security fraud and rewards aliens who commit such fraud with a path to U.S. citizenship. An alien is exempt from one year of work if a caretaker or pregnant. The bill does not require an illegal to pay back taxes if paid for work done surreptitiously. HR 5038 rewards with amnesty those who failed to attend deportation hearings and those previously deported but who illegally re-entered America. The bill authorizes taxpayer money to help illegal immigrants apply for amnesty and permits DHS to utilize up to $10 million from fees paid by those seeking legal immigration benefits such as naturalization. Employers would not face penalties for past hires of illegal aliens applying for CAW or H-2A status or for providing phony employment records or other necessary documentation to assist with a CAW or green card application. They also would not face penalties for continuing to employ an unauthorized worker who intends to apply for legal status under the bill. Employers must also provide workers funding for an annual round-trip to their home countries. The bill protects children from “aging out” of dependency status after turning 21 and suddenly losing authorization, plus the ability to renew or adjust their status. HR 5038 would allow them to use their age at the time of an initial CAW status application in future status adjudications up to 10 years after the initial application.

. Over 300 agricultural groups and rural businesses, including the Nebraska State Dairy Association, urged the House to advance HR 5038. California Citrus Mutual, Farmworker Justice, and United Farm Workers union endorsed the bill.

. More positive legislation would focus on expanding ag production access to additional automated technology and offering the ag industry an unlimited number of U.S. temporary workers through ending mandatory federal wage rules. Modernize the H-2A system to enhance using legal farm labor. Unfortunately, a number of ag producers ignore this program that offers jobs to Americans and hire cheaper illegal aliens. With no aggressive and criminal sanctions on such employers, the problem will persist.

. Notwithstanding our low NE unemployment rate, there is a sufficient number of youth and underemployed who could do farm work all year or seasonally. Illegal aliens now are taking their jobs. Contact your representative today to vote NO on HR 5038, using the issue paper points given above, and email netaxpayers@gmail.com for congressional contact information and to join our NTF Project Immigration.

Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 11-19. C

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