Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced a new immigration bill that they say will benefit agriculture. A Pro Farmer report says the Agriculture and Legal Workforce Act would take the place of the current H-2A visa program. It would require farmers, as well as all employers, to use the E-Verify Program to make sure that all their workers are in the United States legally. The new bill actually includes some of the same provisions that were in a broader GOP immigration bill that was voted down recently in the House. The bill would authorize up to 450,000 H-2C visas annually, which would be good for three years. There is some controversial language in the new bill that would require those workers to have health insurance. A press release from the House Judiciary Committee says the H-2C program would be available to temporary and year-round agricultural employers. The release also says the bill provides generous visa allocations to ensure that labor needs are met, gives needed flexibility to avoid farm disruptions, eliminates regulatory burdens, and provides effective means of enforcement and monitoring.
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