U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill that he says would make it easier for U.S. farmers to bring immigrant workers into the country on temporary visas.
Among other things, his bill would transfer the agricultural labor permitting system to the Agriculture Department, away from the Labor Department.
According to this report from McClatchy, the bill would cover dairies as well as other farms, which apparently has not been the case under previous temporary worker plans. But some in agriculture say Smith’s proposal doesn’t go far enough.
On Aug. 29, 2011, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, was in Whatcom County meeting with local farmers. Afterwards, Larsen said he would oppose legislation that would force farmers to use E-Verify, a computerized federal system that checks validity of a worker’s identity documents, unless a way could be found to enable farmer to get access to legal labor to harvest their crops.