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AgJOBS even more critical with defeat of immigration bill

The following email was circulated this morning by Farmworker Justice and is reposted by permission. AgJOBS is the Agricultural Jobs, Benefits, and Security Act; it addresses immigration issues specific to agricultural workers and includes measures for earned legalization and for reform of the current H-2A guest worker program. See here for more information.

Senate Filibuster Kills Comprehensive Immigration Bill
– Congress Should Pass AgJOBS Now –

Fewer than 60 Senators voted for “cloture” and therefore the comprehensive immigration reform is dead for now in the Senate. The House is unlikely to take up comprehensive immigration reform in the absence of a Senate bill. As the Presidential election campaign intensifies, the likelihood of Congress considering comprehensive immigration reform is very, very small.

We thank all those who have been helping to press for passage of AgJOB, the farmworker immigration legislation.

We are disappointed that the United States Senate has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would address our broken immigration system. The immigration bill that failed included the important AgJOBS farmworker immigration bill that would serve farmworkers and growers. We call on the Senate to pass AgJOBS on its own. We are not giving up. We will help the United Farm Workers and many others advocate for the bipartisan, labor-management AgJOBS compromise.

During the AgJOBS negotiations, farmworkers had to accept several changes that were unfavorable to workers. Similarly, agribusiness groups had to compromise in certain areas. We still believe that the AgJOBS is a necessary and workable solution that benefits the nation. It is a balanced approach that is tough but acceptable.

More than 50% of farmworkers in America are undocumented. In some areas and crops, the entire workforce lacks authorized immigration status. Fear of detection is rampant. Wages and working conditions are inadequate to raise a family.

AgJOBS would help provide America with a stable, legal workforce to put food on our tables. Many undocumented farm workers will be able to come out of the shadows to obtain a temporary legal status and then earn a green card. Earned legal immigration status will help them improve working conditions.

We now urge Senators to consider AgJOBS as a stand alone measure and on its own merits. We are confident that this much-needed provision has support in the Senate. It is long past time for Congress to pass this bipartisan compromise to strengthen American agriculture.

We will keep you informed of developments. Information about AgJOBS, including summaries in English and Spanish, is available on our website at http://www.farmworkerjustice.org/Immigration_Labor/AgJOBS.htm

Farmworker Justice is a 26-year old national advocacy and litigation organization that represents farmworkers and has expertise in guestworker programs.