California farmers warn that immigration reforms recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives will hurt the nation’s agriculture sector, The Fresno Bee reports.
In June, Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, introduced a bill stipulating that all U.S. businesses use E-Verify, a federal database, to ascertain the citizenship status of employees. Smith said the bill will safeguard jobs for American citizens during a time of high unemployment, but farmers in California say it will decimate their necessary labor force of undocumented immigrants, according to The Bee.
Speaking to the news source, Bryan Little, director of labor affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the law will create “huge problems” because farmers can’t find enough documented workers to do necessary labor like picking crops and tending livestock.
Rep. Bryan Lungren, a California Republican, proposed an amendment to address some of the farmers’ concerns. Lungren calls for a foreign guest worker permit that would allow temporary immigrants to work in the United States for up to 10 months a year.
Lungren’s amendment is similar to a guest agricultural worker program known as H-2A. Manual Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League in Fresno, called H-2A a “disaster," saying the program places impractical limitations on farmers in terms of worker recruitment.
Seventy-six percent of contract farmworkers in the United States are unauthorized immigrants, according to the United Farm Workers.