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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Agriculture Amnesty Bailout Bill (AgJOBS) Reintroduced in Congress

Bloggers Note: BigAg & The Horse Racing Industry are behind this push!
Last Thursday, May 14, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Adam Putnam (R-FL) reintroduced the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security (AgJOBS) Act. AgJOBS would grant amnesty to at least 2 million illegal alien agricultural workers and "reform" the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to allow employers easier access to cheap foreign labor. While actual text of the bill hasn't yet been made public, it appears that the bill will be equivalent to versions Congress has debated in the past. (See FAIR's Legislative Analysis of the 2007 Version of AgJOBS ;

Feinstein gave an extensive speech on the Senate floor last Thursday morning in support of AgJOBS, claiming that Congress needs to pass her amnesty bill because of "a farm emergency in this country" brought about by "the absence of farm labor." These claims ignore numerous, recent news reports that California agriculture is suffering from severe drought, financial downturn and unemployment. (See e.g. The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2009;

Nevertheless, Senator Feinstein used her floor time to resurrect previously told stories about farmers hurt by worker shortages, including Lake County, California pear farmer Toni Scully. (Senator Feinstein's Floor Speech, May 14, 2009;

Scully's story was first told in 2006, and Feinstein "used a three-year-old photo of Scully to help make her case." (The Miami Herald, May 14, 2009;

Media reports noted that special interest farm groups are already lining up to support AgJOBS, including the United Farm Workers of America and the California Farm Bureau Federation. (Id.). It is unclear as to whether Congressional leadership intends to move the legislation. In the past, Senator Feinstein has pushed Congressional Leadership to include AgJOBS in any "comprehensive" immigration reform package. (Senator Feinstein Press Release, May 17, 2007;


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