Oct 25 2011
The American agricultural industry is critical to the stability of our nation’s economy. Unfortunately, few Americans are willing to work in many agricultural jobs, and outdated visa laws prevent business from attracting temporary foreign workers to fill the shortage.
In Utah, dairies and ranches need year-round help, but many temporary farm workers are only able to obtain seasonal visas. To address this problem, I have recently introduced the Dairy and Sheep H2A Act, (or “DASH Act”) along with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Our bill would make dairy workers, sheep herders, and goat herders eligible to apply for year-round positions through the H2A visa program. Visas for such workers would have an initial term of three years and could be renewed for additional periods of three years without requiring workers to return to their home countries.
Unlike other legislation, the DASH Act would in no way provide a legal path to citizenship and would require workers who do not obtain a proper renewal to go home.
Immigration involves a complicated and difficult set of issues. Rather than attempt to fashion an all-or-nothing “comprehensive” approach aimed at solving every problem simultaneously, it makes more sense to address each challenge individually and make real progress towards our country’s larger objectives.
For example, making certain types of legal immigration more efficient and fair diminishes the incentive for some to come here illegally or overstay their visas. This is the principle behind the DASH Act. Streamlining the process by which we identify, process, and oversee temporary workers coming to our country to do agricultural work will strengthen our nation’s economy.
The DASH Act is one small piece of the immigration puzzle. In the coming months, I will be pushing for further progress in other immigration related areas, such as reforming birthright citizenship and strengthening our E-Verify system.