Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The House on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that would allow thousands of undocumented farmworkers to receive legal status in the United States.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed by a vote of 260-165. The bill would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers, reform a temporary agricultural program used by employers and require companies to use a federal system to verify whether workers are in the United States legally.
Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security would be able to grant certified agricultural worker, or CAW, status to an undocumented immigrant who has performed at least 1,035 hours of agricultural labor in the two years prior to Oct. 30, 2019.
CAW status would be valid for five and a half years with the potential for that period to be extended. DHS would also be able to grant dependent status for the individual's spouse or children.
An undocumented immigrant with CAW status would then be able to apply for lawful permanent resident status after meeting requirements including performing a certain amount of agricultural work over a period of years.
The bill would also make changes to the H-2A temporary worker program including modifying the method for calculating and adjusting minimum wage, requiring employers to guarantee minimum work hours and making the program available for year-round agricultural work as well as reserving a visa allocation for work in the dairy industry.