The Northwest Herald of McHenry County in Illinois reports some area farmers are requesting immigration reforms that could improve the agriculture community’s ability to fill jobs by providing a larger pool of potential hires.
“It was difficult for us to get local labour,” said Harry Alten, Harvard, IL farmer. “That filled the void.”
Farmers have long had to look outside the area’s local employee pool for farmhands. Even during a stingy job market, domestic workers are reluctant to take the inglorious jobs in tough conditions.
Without reform, experts say the segments will shrink.
Nielsen would like to see two kinds of reform. First, the farm bureau calls for changes to the seasonal work visa system – currently called the H-2A visa – which farmers say takes too long and is bogged down by loads of paperwork. The program should be run by the USDA, not the Department of Labour, Nielsen said.
Second, Nielsen said, the farm bureau wants current undocumented workers to have a chance to “pay a fine” and “come clean.”
“Give them an opportunity to come out of the shadows,” Nielsen said. “And if they’re willing to work in agriculture for a certain amount of time, give them a chance to become eligible to get a green card down the road.”
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Source: Northwest Herald July 6, 2014