Goodlatte and Stenholm Introduce Sensible Guest Worker Reform Legislation

Nov 24, 2003

Washington D.C.- Today, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, announced that he introduced legislation which reforms the H-2A temporary visa process without providing blanket amnesty for those workers who are in the country illegally. The bill would give employers and workers in the agriculture industry a more functional and streamlined temporary visa program by simplifying the application process, addressing the inflated wage employers are required to pay (the so-called Adverse Effect Wage Rate or AEWR), and allowing workers who are currently in the country illegally a one-time chance to be allowed to participate in the program by returning to their native country and applying. There were 33 co-sponsors upon introduction of the legislation, including Congressman Charlie Stenholm, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee .

"This guest worker reform legislation helps agriculture employers by allowing for streamlined access to a legal temporary workforce, while providing foreign workers with stable, lawful access to jobs," Goodlatte said. "The bill would provide for standardization of a needed workforce while not compromising national security."

This legislation reforms the guest worker program without allowing those currently in the country illegally to adjust to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status. Specifically, the legislation:
•Shortens the labor certification process considerably by eliminating the requirement that employers receive a ?labor certification? from the Department of Labor (DOL) and allowing them to go through a more simple attestation process. Employers' applications are reviewed for completeness and obvious inaccuracies only, and they are notified of approval within seven days.
•Eliminates the artificially high Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) and replaces it with a prevailing wage standard which requires that employers pay more fair and realistic wages when compared to similar work in the region.
•Gives workers currently in the country illegally a one-time waiver allowing them to return home and apply for the program. This gives this population an opportunity to come out of hiding and participate in the guest worker program by allowing them to come into the country to work seasonably which is, in fact, the intent and purpose of the H-2A temporary visa. This bill does not provide a way for illegal aliens to adjust to Legal Permanent Resident status.

"This legislation will offer needed reform to the H-2A temporary visa process that promotes border security by allowing guest workers to come and go legally," Goodlatte concluded.

 In addition to serving as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee , Goodlatte also sits on the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, which have jurisdiction over immigration and border security respectively.