Apr 28, 2022
Action urged on ag labor reform measure by Washington state’s Newhouse

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, hosted a press conference on April 27 with community leaders and advocacy organizations to urge action on his legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

The groups tacking part included the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry’s (NCCHM) Raíces y Alas Congress, Americans for Prosperity, AmericanHort, National Immigration Forum, Raíces, The LIBRE Initiative, and several other members of the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus.

Newhouse said the legislation is a strong workforce solution which will provide certainty to both farm owners and workers through an accessible, employment-based program, and is a key component to his efforts to address border security, Dreamers, and the agricultural workforce

Newhouse’s remarks as prepared can be found in full below:

Thank you, Bishop, for that introduction.

Hello everyone, I’m Congressman Dan Newhouse from Washington State, and I’m here today to urge my colleagues to come together so we can finally fix our broken immigration system.

We need a system that stops rewarding illegal behavior and reforming our broken system has been one of my top priorities in Congress—from ensuring we have a workable guestworker program for our agriculture industry to providing certainty and legal status for Dreamers who were brought here as children at no fault of their own.

The best way to stop illegal immigration is to streamline our legal immigration processes, eliminate opportunities to work without legal status, and simply enforce our laws. That’s why I continue to push my legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

Agriculture producers across the country are facing a labor shortage crisis, and I don’t use the word “crisis” lightly.

I’m a farmer myself, and I can tell you that it is truly a struggle to find workers. Without an adequate workforce, our crops will go unharvested, and our already-delicate food supply chain is placed further at risk.

So, to keep our families fed and our country running, many of our producers rely on the H-2A program for labor, but the program is burdensome and the application process doesn’t work for farmers or farmworkers.

This puts our farmers in a tough spot.

While I see firsthand the struggle our Central Washington producers face, this isn’t just an issue affecting Central Washington, this is a nationwide issue.

That is why at the federal level, I introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act – to address these labor shortages and ensure we have a legal and reliable workforce for all of agriculture.

The legislation streamlines the existing H-2A program and establishes a new employment- and merit-based program to ensure that not only are agriculture workers in the United States legally, but that they remain law-abiding and continue to contribute to our farms, ranches, local communities, and economies.

By ensuring a legal and reliable agricultural workforce, we can secure our food supply, strengthening our national security and averting disaster.

It is imperative we reform our broken immigration laws and ensure that those who wish to pursue a legal pathway or come to our country to contribute to our agriculture industry are able to do so.

We also must deliver certainty for Dreamers in Central Washington and across the country by enacting a solution that strengthens our national security and allows DACA recipients to continue contributing to our communities.

The United States is a country built by immigrants, and we welcome them into our communities. In my home district of Central Washington, immigrants are small business owners, scientists, teachers, veterans, neighbors, friends, and—in many cases – family.

Congress cannot keep kicking this can down the road, and until we have a comprehensive solution signed into law, these young people – who were brought to this country at no fault of their own – will continue to suffer.

Responsible immigration reform means legislation that protects our communities, strengthens our national security, and secures our southern border, but also recognizes the contributions of immigrants and bolsters our local economies, producers, and small businesses.

It is past time we deliver solutions – not just empty promises –to our farmers and ranchers, to our farmworkers, and to all Americans who deserve a strong food supply chain.

And we already have that solution in the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

If I can leave today with a message, I would impress upon you to reach out to your Senators and tell them you want to see the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, as well as legislation that gives certainty to Dreamers and improves border security, move forward in the Senate.

Because together, we can finally secure our border, provide certainty for our Dreamers, and provide a lasting solution for our farmers and ranchers.

Thank you,

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington

See Newhouses’s presentation here.




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