Officials reach deal on migrant workers as part of immigration bill

April 13, 2013 at 2:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- Farm labor unions and growers have reached agreement on migrant workers to be included in an immigration bill being drafted in the U.S. Senate, officials said.

The agreement, reached late Friday and brokered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would set the terms of wages, visas and working conditions for migrant agriculture workers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It establishes a system of "blue cards" -- visas for migrant workers who are already in the country without legal permission.

"All have come together to endorse this agreement," Feinstein said in a statement announcing the deal.

Kristi Boswell, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, described the agreement as "a positive step in the direction for ensuring agriculture has access to a stable and legal workforce."

"It is very much a compromise," said Giev Kashkooli, a national vice president for United Farm Workers. "We are convinced it will not reduce farmworker wages, and it will -- we hope -- lead to a new era of stability for agriculture."

Undocumented migrant workers who have already worked in agriculture in the United States for at least two years and can commit to working in agriculture for at least five more years would be eligible to apply for blue cards. Officials said the system would put applicants on the path toward citizenship and would likely be easier than obtaining a green card.

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