WASHINGTON, D.C. – Throughout California’s Central Valley last year, crops were left hanging, unpicked and rotting.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, (D) California, said farmers lost out because they simply didn’t have enough workers to help with the harvest.
“We do need a flow of farmworkers into the United States,” Lofgren said.
She and other California representatives are working to fix the problem. She authored a bill to let migrant workers earn legal status in the U.S. through their work on American farms.
“They can get right with the law and go ahead and do their work without fear. Also, farmers don’t have to worry they’re going to lose their workforce,” Lofgren said.
Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa, (R) California, said that the bill, known as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, finally cleared the House Judiciary Committee after eight months of negotiation.
“I don’t want anybody to blow this up because they say it’s amnesty. It’s far from that,” LaMalfa said. He said that bringing his Republican colleagues on board has not been easy. However, this bill, designed with farmers well being in mind, got 26 Democratic votes and 23 Republican.
“We still need the border wall. I support that a hundred percent,” LaMalfa said.
LaMalfa says the bill will actually help curb illegal immigration by providing a legal means for migrants to work seasonally.
“I think when you look across the whole plane here, you say, you know, 'This is pretty fair,'” LaMalfa said.
He said the bill also includes an e-verify system to make sure migrant workers aren’t overstaying their Visas.
The bill now moves to the full House where both Democrats and Republicans say they feel confident it’ll pass.