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Farm workers and advocates help forge compromise bill providing legal status to immigrant farm workers during months of tough talks with growers & lawmakers from both parties

United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero and UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres issued the following statement after introduction of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives by primary sponsors Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.):

Bipartisan compromise legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, crafted with help from a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers, is the result of months of difficult negotiations between Members of Congress from both parties, the United Farm Workers, UFW Foundation, Farmworker Justice and most of the nation’s major grower associations. 

They have constructed a thoughtful compromise on issues that have previously prevented agricultural and other immigration reform legislation from passing Congress.  The UFW and UFW Foundation are enthusiastic about passing legislation that honors all farm workers who feed America by creating a way for undocumented farm workers to apply for legal status and a roadmap to earn citizenship in the future without compromising farm workers’ existing wages and legal protections.

Understanding that compromise is required to meaningfully improve the lives of immigrant field laborers, it is our hope this will be the first time the House of Representatives, under the leadership of either party, will approve an agricultural immigration bill.

Remarks by Arturo S. Rodriguez, President Emeritus
United Farm Workers of America
Introducing a bipartisan agricultural immigration bill,
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019
October 30, 2019—Washington, D.C.

More than four and a half decades of my life have been spent working with and for the human beings who do some of the most important work imaginable—the last quarter century as president of the United Farm Workers of America.

Hoy es un gran día —republicanos y demócratas, trabajadores y rancheros se reúnen para copatrocinar la legislación que extiende a las mujeres y los hombres que nos alimentan el derecho de solicitar un estatus legal permanente en la nación por la que trabajan y se sacrifican. Y lo hacemos sin comprometer sus salarios existentes y las protecciones legales.

Today is a milestone because this bill will help bring stability to the agricultural industry…Agricultural workers will have stability for themselves and their families. No longer will children worry whether their moms and dads are coming home from work. The bill addresses the pervasive fear faced every day by the immigrant farm workers who perform one of the toughest jobs in America.

With legal status, immigrant farm workers will be more likely to follow the crops to other regions and states. They will be able to return to join loved ones in their home countries for funerals and marriages and other vital family events.

We need to thank both the Democratic and Republican lawmakers who worked so diligently for this bill—Dan Newhouse and Zoe Lofgren and Mike Simpson, Doug LaMalfa, Mario Diaz-Balart, Jimmy Panetta, and Salud Carbajal. I know you know you all have dedicated, hard-working staffs. But I also want to recognize the difficult work over the past few months by a few staff members I’ve had the chance to work with directly such as David, Carrie, Jamie, Mark, Cesar, John, and Betsy. All of them were terrific to work with and did great work.

We meet today as part of a united agriculture. We are hoping for a very strong result: This will be the first time that the U.S. House of Representatives, under either party, passes an agricultural immigration bill. It will be a significant step forward.

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