AILA’s Statement on the AgJobs Act

September 23, 2003

Historic Bipartisan Farm Worker Bill to Be Introduced In Congress
Sets the Stage for Needed Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representatives Chris Cannon (R-UT) and Howard Berman (D-CA) today announced the introduction of an agricultural worker reform bill, the Agricultural Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits, and Security (AgJobs) Act. "This measure reflects an historic agreement between the representatives of farm workers and the agricultural industry, and the pressing need, for humanitarian, economic, and security reasons, to reform our immigration laws in this sector of our economy," said Jeanne Butterfield, Executive Director, and Judith Golub, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

This measure would create an earned adjustment program for undocumented farm workers who would be eligible to apply for temporary immigration status based on their past work experience, and could become permanent residents upon satisfying prospective work requirements. This measure also streamlines the existing H-2A foreign agricultural worker program while preserving and enhancing key labor protections. "Once enacted, these provisions are a net plus for both workers and employers by creating a stable labor force and a useable program through which future workers can legally enter. By encouraging people to come out of the shadows and be reviewed by our government, this measure also will enhance our security by helping us know who lives and works within our borders," said Butterfield.

"The AgJobs Act reflects difficult compromises made by both sides. As is the case with the best compromises, both sides in this historic deal did not get everything they wanted, but all have agreed to work together to make sure that the AgJobs Act becomes law," said Golub.

AILA commends Senators Craig and Kennedy and Representatives Cannon and Berman for a job well done. "As we work to enact needed change in the agricultural sector, we also must forge ahead with the more comprehensive immigration reforms so vital to our broader immigration system. Such comprehensive reform is needed to fully address our economic, humanitarian and security needs," concluded Butterfield and Golub.

For More Information
Julia Hendrix (202) 216-2404

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 03092317.