This week, Members of the U.S. Senate introduced the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013," a bipartisan immigration bill closely watched by agricultural interests across New York. Congressman Bill Owens, who called for the inclusion of a farm-labor provision in the run up to the bill, applauded the effort and made the following statement on the announcement:
"I am pleased to see that farm labor was given full consideration in this bipartisan effort to address immigration," Owens said. "This legislation acknowledges the needs of dairy farmers, apple growers and others across the state that depend on immigrant labor to succeed and grow their operations. I look forward to further reviewing this comprehensive legislation and will continue to advocate for a strong farm labor component as part of the final bill."
According to a summary of the legislation released this week, a new agricultural guest worker visa program would be established as part of the bill. A portable, at-will employment based "W-3" visa and a contract-based "W-2" visa would replace the current H-2A program. It will provide growers with a streamlined process to petition for help and sunset the current H-2A program as the new guest-worker program comes online.