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Panetta Co-Sponsors “Blue Card” Agricultural Worker Program Act

May 25, 2017
Press Release
Companion to Sen. Feinstein’s “Blue Card” bill would provide an opportunity for agricultural workers to apply for legal status

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and 26 of his House Democratic colleagues introduced a bill to legalize the immigration status of farm workers working in American agriculture. The bill, of which Congressman Panetta is an original co-sponsor, would create a program that would allow agricultural workers and their families to apply for a “Blue Card” that gives them legal status and work authorization if they show consistent employment in U.S. agriculture over the past two years, pay a fine, and pass a thorough background check.  A 3- to 5- year path to citizenship is provided to those who continue to work in agriculture for the requisite amount of time. The bill, led by Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) is the House companion to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) bill, S. 1034, which currently has seven Senate co-sponsors.

“Immigrant farmworkers are not only the backbone of our nation’s agriculture industry, they and their families are the heart and soul of many rural communities,” said Congressman Panetta. “They plant and harvest the food that goes on our dinner tables and enrich the social, cultural, and historical fabric of our society. If Congress continues to ignore our nation’s severe labor shortage, our agriculture industry will suffer, perishable produce will be left to rot in our fields, and families will see an increase in their grocery bills. The people who help feed our families deserve this opportunity to step out of the shadows and fully participate in their communities. This bill is a critical step forward for both our farmers and farm workers.”

“Every day, the food we eat, the dairy products, the wine, the berries and veggies – it all passes through the hands of undocumented immigrants,” said Congressman Gutiérrez, a Member of the Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Immigration Taskforce of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “Every American is complicit in the reality that we depend on agriculture, and agriculture depends on immigrants, but we have not allowed those workers to come here legally nor allowed them to work legally once they have been here.  So let’s put our agricultural industry and the families, farmers, and entrepreneurs in this critical industry on a legal footing and take them out of the black market.”