A long-standing argument for open borders is that there are jobs, like crop picking, that Americans just won’t do. Instead of fighting against that argument, members of the Trump administration announced Thursday that they would make it easier for foreign farm workers to get visas to work in the U.S legally and incentivize farmers to use tools that ensure a legal workforce.
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security, Sec. of Labor Alexander Acosta, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a joint statement outlining the proposal.
When President Trump addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation in January of this year, he reminded the audience that his commitment to our farmers has been clear since the day his Administration began: “From that day on, we have been working every day to deliver for America’s farmers just as they work every single day to deliver for us,” the group said.
Their departments are working in coordination to propose streamlining, simplifying, and improving the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program – reducing cumbersome bureaucracy and ensuring adequate protections for U.S. workers.
“The Trump Administration is committed to modernizing the H-2A visa program rules in a way that is responsive to stakeholder concerns and that deepens our confidence in the program as a source of legal and verified labor for agriculture – while also reinforcing the program’s strong employment and wage protections for the American workforce,” they said. “In addition, by improving the H-2A visa program and substantially reducing its complexity, the Administration also plans to incentivize farmers’ use of the E-Verify program to ensure their workforce is authorized to work in the United States.”
As the agencies tasked with administering or facilitating the H-2A visa program, and thus closest to farmer and labor stakeholders, the Departments of State, Agriculture, Labor, and Homeland Security are embarking on a process to modernize the H-2A visa program by clarifying and improving the regulations governing the program.
By legalizing the immigrant agricultural workforce, pay will naturally rise to a level where more Americans may be interested in working crops. It will also allow for the collection of income taxes from the workers so that they can pay into the social systems and for infrastructure that they too use.
The move may also disincentivize illegal crossings for season farm workers. By making the H-2A visas easier to get, the dangerous trek across the border will no longer be necessary. Migrant workers can just drive in through a border checkpoint.
No date was given for the implementation of the initiatives, but the group said they hope to deliver on them soon.