Wednesday, February 6, 2008


The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security today announced plans to modernize the existing H-2A Temporary Agriculture Worker Program by improving the application process and strengthening worker protections. Today’s proposed reforms are the first in 20 years. After the proposals were announced, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., made the following statement:

“I’ve been working on H-2A reform since I got to Congress. Georgia’s farmers are among the heaviest users of the program, and their experience with the H-2A program has made it is clear to me the current program is cumbersome and difficult to use for farmers and ranchers trying to do the right thing.

“With agriculture being Georgia’s number one industry, it is imperative that we streamline and modernize this program. We know that there are currently about 1.2 million agricultural workers in the U.S. We also know that an estimated 50 to 70 percent of that agricultural workforce is undocumented. If you consider that the H-2A program is uncapped, but less than 80,000 H-2A workers were utilized last year, it is clear there is a problem, because there is a legal avenue for employers to use and they are not doing it. As enforcement efforts continue to increase around the country, I believe more and more farmers will turn to the H-2A program, and we need to make sure it can work for those trying to use it.”

“As many farming operations have modernized and diversified to year-round work, the current H-2A program has not been able to accommodate the needs of all of America’s farmers. It has been costly, litigious, and difficult for employers to navigate to obtain legal workers in a timely manner. I have underscored the importance of making necessary changes to both Secretary Chao and Secretary Chertoff, and I am pleased the administration is taking action. I look forward to working with them on a final product.”

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