Collins Addresses Visa Program and Impact on Farmers
Written by Dan Fischer on May 31, 2019
Clarence – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) announced his new legislation to address the crisis local farmers are facing due to the current H-2A visa program at a press conference at the Boxler Dairy Farm in Varysburg. The Helping Labor Personnel (HELP) Farms Act requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State and Secretary of Labor, grant temporary work authorization forms for nonseasonal agriculture workers. This legislation will provide a short-term, one time fix, to help the non-seasonal agriculture workforce.
“Under current law, the H-2A visa program does not help our struggling dairy farms,” said Congressman Collins. “This legislation provides a temporary solution while Congress and the Department of Labor work together to find a bipartisan solution.”
The Collins bill calls for a non-seasonal agriculture worker to be sponsored by a United States farm where they have worked in the past for at least two years. Once the application gets approved, the alien worker will be granted work authorization for two years with his/her spouse and children. Additionally, protections are included for the sponsoring employer to ensure there will be no consequences for employing an alien workforce due to the outdated and flawed H-2A visa program.
“Our dairy farmers should not be punished because the current H-2A visa program has become outdated and flawed. Each day that passes is another opportunity for a dairy farmer to lose all of his or her workforce making this a true crisis,” added Collins.
An alien worker who currently works in a non-seasonal agriculture occupation may be permitted to apply to this temporary work authorization program as long as he/she has not been convicted on felony charges of rape, kidnapping, violent assault, sexual assault, or suspected terrorism. Alien workers who are currently being detained may also be given the opportunity to apply for this program.