by Philip Brasher, CQ Roll Call
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte tells CQ Roll Call that providing farms access to a legal source of immigrant labor will be “absolutely critical” to a broader overhaul of immigration policy. “The current program is not working. It’s not utilized by most folks,” the Virginia Republican said in a short interview.
He said lawmakers would try to satisfy the demands of both farm groups and farmworker advocates, but one of his complaints about the existing H-2A visa system is the wage levels that farms are required to pay. “It’s based upon bureaucrats setting wages, and that just does not work,” Goodlatte says. By contrast, advocates for farmworkers say the problem with the H-2A system is that the government hasn’t protected immigrants from employers who don’t meet minimum standards for pay, worker safety and housing.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., warned at a Senate Judiciary hearing Wednesday that the guestworker issue could be a “real roadblock” to passing immigration legislation.