Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) released the following statement after the passage of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, and H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021.
“These bills are two major steps to reforming an immigration system we all agree is broken,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The American Dream and Promise Act finally ends the legal uncertainty Dreamers have endured by giving them the assurance they have a pathway to becoming an American citizen.
“Farm workers feed the nation,” continued Congresswoman Hayes. “We must stabilize the workforce in order to support our nation’s farms, and provide a pathway for citizenship. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act accomplishes this by providing that path for farmworkers and updating and streamlining the H-2A temporary worker visa program while ensuring fair wages and working conditions for all workers.
“The passage of these bills is the beginning of our work in the House to ensure our immigration system is humane, efficient, and fair to all.”
H.R. 6 would provide vital protections to up to 3.4 million immigrants by:
- Establishing a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for Dreamers (individuals who came to the United states when they were young) and for certain individuals who were eligible for or held Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED);
- Providing conditional LPR status for up to 10 years to Dreamers who meet certain basic educational benchmarks. It provides full LPR status to those who reach more advanced professional or career milestones;
- Including crucial safety provisions, such as barring eligibility if an applicant presents a national security risk, has a felony conviction of any kind, or certain misdemeanor convictions; and
- Creating a path to LPR status for individuals who had, or were eligible for, TPS on January 1, 2017, or DED on January 20, 2021, if they have been in the United States for at least 3 years and have not committed any acts that would disqualify them for relief under those programs.
H.R. 1603 would reform our agricultural labor sector by:
- Providing lawful status to approximately 1.7 million undocumented agricultural workers and their families, and reforms the H-2A temporary visa program to improve working conditions and labor protections for agricultural workers, including by requiring employers to maintain safety plans and increasing oversight to prevent foreign labor recruiter abuses;
- Increasing the number of green cards available to agricultural workers while expanding availability of these green cards to H-2A workers;
- Streamlining the H-2A process for employers by simplifying filing procedures and reduces costs associated with the program by providing H-2A workers with 3-year visas;
- Opening the H-2A program to year-round agricultural employers (i.e., dairy), creates a pilot program for portable H-2A workers who work for registered employers, and expands the availability and affordability of farmworker housing; and
- Modernizing the electronic verification system (E-Verify) by building in due process protections for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system and phases the system in to the agricultural sector once all legalization and H-2A reforms have been fully implemented.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.