Blue Card Program Program Discussed
July 23, 2013
Kern County Meeting Focuses on Immigration Reform
Congressman David Valadeo (R-CA) attended what could be characterized as a Town Hall meeting in Bakersfield over the weekend. The meeting was organized by social welfare groups, along with members of United Farm Workers (UFW).
The big topic was how to manage the issues faced by undocumented farm workers, such as how to be humane with the workers, with the fairness they deserve, while negotiations continue on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform discussion.
Brian Little, who oversees labor relations for the California Farm Bureau Federation, attended the meeting and noted that it was about how to get undocumented farm workers, documented.
UFW, which supports Western Growers Association and Farm Bureau regarding the Blue Card program, would allow the vast majority of current farm workers to obtain legal status if they chose to remain in agriculture.
After a minimum of five years, workers who fulfill their Blue Card work requirements in U.S. agriculture would become eligible to apply for a Green Card, providing they have no outstanding taxes or convictions. In addition, a new agricultural guest worker program would be established to guarantee a flow of agricultural workers in future years.
The proposed agreement specifies wages for various agricultural work. There would be a visa cap for the first five years for current workers participating in the Blue Card program. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture would have a mandate to modify that cap as circumstances dictate in future years.
The take-home message, according to Little, was that the organizers wanted people in the Kern County community who have an interest in helping farm workers to speak with their Congressman about Immigration Reform, during the August recess.