Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:47 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new foreign guestworker visa program could alleviate farmworker shortages but would give foreign workers the same employment and tax protections as U.S. workers so that employers would not prefer temporary foreign workers over U.S. workers.
That point was made by Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, Irvine, Calif., in written testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security for its Feb. 26 hearing: "From H-2A to a Workable Agricultural Guest Worker Program."
The program would have incentives for workers to return home after terms of their visas are completed, Nassif wrote. Use of an E-verify system would guarantee that people with a visa to work in agriculture could not legally work in another sector, he said.
"There is not a person in our country that is not connected to this problem," Nassif wrote. "If you eat fresh produce, drink milk, grill steaks or purchase plants for your yard, you are benefiting from the hard work of a foreign agricultural worker."
Western Growers represents fresh producer growers in Arizona and California who provide half the nation's fresh fruits and vegetables and a third of its fresh organic produce.
-- Dan Wheat