Kingston, Westmoreland, Seek To Fix H-2A Visa

Following up on Charlie’s article on Monday, Congressmen Kingston and Westmoreland are pushing reform of the H-2A visa. The H2A visa allows laborers to legally enter the U.S. to work in the agricultural industry. The current rules governing H-2A simply don’t work, increasing the incentive for laborers to come here illegally and farmers to employ them. Let me join those praising Kingston and Westmoreland for pushing this bill.

The BARN Act would:

• shift a portion of regulatory responsibility for the H2A program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture;

• expand the definition of agricultural worker to include the dairy and ranching industries;

• allow farmers to attach an experience requirement to job postings to allow farmers to be matched with more qualified workers;

• remove requirement for farmers to hire domestic workers during a contract period when there is no existing need for additional workers;

• establish a fair, new farm wage methodology, setting a wage minimum at 115% of whichever is higher of federal, state or local minimum wage;

• allow employers to apply for H-2A workers 30 days in advance of need, reducing it from the current 45 day requirement to give farmers more flexibility in managing their labor supplies and expedites the Department of Labor’s review process;

• make H-2A visas a one year visa which may be renewed once before the worker is required to return to their home country, between renewals an employer must re-test the domestic labor market as if the worker was a first-time applicant;

• shift existing housing requirements to a voucher system, allowing the option of using existing housing rather than requiring farmers build permanent worker housing;

• establish reasonable reforms on the Legal Services Corporation; and

o prohibits legal activism unless the alien is present
o prohibits bringing civil action unless the counterparties have attempted mediation
o prohibits entering H-2A employer property without pre-arranged appointments
o requires respect of existing arbitration process and outcome if employer and employee have an existing arbitration arrangement

• place new restrictions on H-2A participants.

o makes worker who overstays his or her H-2A visa ineligible to reapply for 5 years
o makes any applicant who commits fraudulent activity in connection with obtaining an H-2A visa permanently ineligible
o makes any worker found committing a deportable offense while in the U.S. permanently ineligible
o makes any employer who knowingly hires a worker with an expired H-2A visa or who knowingly facilitates fraudulent activity in connection with the H-2A process permanently ineligible from participation in the H-2A program and other work visa programs

The AJC has more.

10 comments

  1. benevolus says:

    The punishment for employers who circumvent the system is that they don’t get to use the system? That oughta stop ’em!

  2. Three Jack says:

    over regulation. by the time a regular farmer complies with all this bs, he would be better off just hiring day labor.

    we have a workforce that wants to work and we have an industry in need of the willing workforce. we have a government that impedes this process. adding more impediments will not solve the problem.

  3. gcp says:

    If farmers fund workers healthcare and transportation this bill would be acceptable; if not the taxpayers will be forced to subsidize farmers again and that’s not acceptable.

    • saltycracker says:

      I believe H2A requires workman’s comp and requires compliance with wages & work conditions and protection. When the law started looking the other way on illegals it got very easy to exploit them, they were under the radar subhumans, living in fear.

      No amnesty, no citizenship, but if they get here from Guatemala with a farmer wanting to hire them, sign them in, tax them, protect them, track them and enforce the laws.Streamline & Fix H2A.

  4. Herb says:

    I don’t think you need a Visa to enter the USA. I think all that needs to be placed on the border is a welcome sign. Supporters of the Border Wall should be tried for Treason!

Comments are closed.