House Passes Massive Farmworker Amnesty
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | December 2019
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, by a vote of 260-165. This bill would amnesty over 1.5 million illegal alien farmworkers by creating a new “certified agricultural worker” (CAW) program that puts them on a path to eventual citizenship.
226 Democrats joined with 34 of their Republican colleagues to send this mass amnesty to the Senate. Opposing this bill were the majority of House Republicans (161) and three Democrats – Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), and Bobby Scott (D-Va.). Leftist firebrand Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) curiously voted “present” rather than for or against the bill. Reps. Golden and McAdams both represent districts that President Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.
After the bill’s passage Wednesday evening, FAIR president Dan Stein remarked that “Congress continues to do nothing to secure our borders. They passed a bill that rewards both illegal aliens and their employers, and calling it ‘modernization’ is a slap in the face to the plurality of Americans who consider immigration to be the nation’s most pressing domestic issue.”
Indeed, there is nothing modern about this bill. Instead of investing in labor-saving automation technology, this bill confers legal status upon millions of illegal alien farmworkers. It does nothing to punish the agricultural employers who ignored long-standing immigration law and knowingly hired illegal aliens. Agriculture already has an unlimited and uncapped visa program – the H-2A. They could hire as many H-2A guestworkers as they want – but they do not want to pay them. It is still cheaper and easier for them to clandestinely hire illegal labor.
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is showing no signs as to what he will do with H.R. 5038. What can you do? Call McConnell and tell him to refuse to bring H.R. 5038 for a Senate vote. Between passing a number of spending bills, confirming judicial nominations, and preparing for a historic impeachment trial, it is highly unlikely that the Senate would take up H.R. 5038 anytime soon. At this time, FAIR does not expect the Senate to take up the matter and simply ignore the House’s bill altogether. Even if the bill were to find its way to the President’s desk, would he sign a massive 1.5 million person amnesty as his first legislative immigration achievement? It does not seem likely.