Watch Video Cast of H-2A Hearing Today

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “The H-2A Visa Program: Meeting the Growing Needs of American Agriculture?” this morning April 13, 2011 at 10 am.

You can view the hearing on the Judiciary Committee’s website located at  http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_04132011.html.

Lee Wicker from the North Carolina Growers Association will testify as well as one of ILMC’s attorneys Leon Sequeira from the Washington DC based law firm Seyfarth Shaw, rounding out the panel is USDOL Employment & Training Administration Assistant Secretary Jane Oates and Farmworker Justice representative Bruce Goldstein.

We will be watching, hopefully you will too.

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Georgia Follows in Arizona’s Footsteps

There have been a number of other states that have considered following Arizona’s lead in enforcing our nation’s immigration laws.  Those states include; Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Florida, Nebraska, Kentucky, Utah, Pennsylvania, Texas, and South Carolina. 

South Carolina’s State Legislature already passed the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act and their enforcement of that act went in to effect last year.

State lawmakers in Georgia expect to vote on House Bill 87 (Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011) within the next week or two.  According to the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, House Bill 87 is in committee now.

 The main components of House Bill 87 are:

  • Monetary penalties for transporting or harboring illegal aliens
  • Police verification of legal status, detention if illegally present
  • All employers must e-Verify, enforcement for some begins as early as 9/1/11 if bill passes
  • Must be legal resident to receive public services/assistance

Some argue that many states are too short on funding and administering and enforcing House Bill 87 could cost the state of Georgia money it may not have.  Those in support of initiatives like House Bill 87 may ask, what is the cost of providing public services, emergency health care and imprisoning illegal residents? Is it more or less than the millions it may take to put House Bill 87 in to action.

What is the ultimate cost for people in Georgia and beyond?

Click here to read Georgia’s House Bill 87.

Click here to find out what South Carolina requires to be in compliance.

Changes Ahead

As a result of the implementation of new regulations guiding the H2A guestworker program in March of this year (“Solis rules”), a lot of employers participating in the guestworker program will feel the shift in policy on the farm.

One of the staff members here at ILMC, Theresa, likes to peruse the decisions on H2A and H2B hearings by Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) from time to time.  I know what you’re thinking, thats a pretty mundane hobby but it actually proves to be a valuable and useful one where our jobs are concerned.

In a recent visit to the site that houses the ALJ decisions, Theresa found a case concerning an “association” called Agricultural Workforce Management Association (AWMA) that attempted to file a master application for employers where none of the parties on the application were jointly employed.  AWMA is an association similar to ILMC based in Kentucky.  As a side note, it appears that agents of this kind grow on trees in Kentucky, there always seems to be a new one.

USDOL denied the case, AWMA appealed the denial with an ALJ.

Clearly this case was a LOSER and should not have been appealed.  The reason why its so obvious is because the new regulations are quite clear about the parameters for filing a master application.  The ALJ restates the regulation that addresses filing a master application in his decision,

20 C.F.R. 655.131
(a) Individual applications. Associations of agricultural employers nlay file an Application for Temporary Employment Certification for H-2A workers as a sole employer, a joint employer, or agent. The association must identify in the Application for Temporary Employment Certification in what capacity it is filing. The association must retain documentation substantiating the employer or agency status of the association and be prepared to submit such documentation in response to a Notice of Deficiency from the CO prior to issuing a Final Determination, or in the event of an audit.
(b)Master applications. An association may file a master application on behalf of its employer-members. The master application is available only when the association is filing as a joint employer. An association may submit a master application covering the same occupation or comparable work available with a number of its employer-members in multiple areas of intended employment, just as though all of the covered employers were in fact a single employer, as long as a single date of need is provided for all workers requested by the Application for Temporary Employment Certification and all employer-members are located in no more than two contiguous States. The association must identify on the…
 
 
I think you get the point.  AWMA attempted to file a master application as an association acting as the agent for employers that were not jointly employed.  AWMA lost the case and the denial was upheld.  If AWMA had to refile, the workers arrival was most likely significantly delayed which in turn resulted in a delay in harvest.

Conclusion, the Solis regulations brought change to the fields and to the desks of the paper pushers.  Looks like AWMA may be looking to change their business model? 

 

New H2A Regulations Posted Today

New H2A regulations were posted in the Federal Register today.  The new rules will become effective beginning March 15, 2010.

Our staff has not had the opportunity to read the new regulations in their entirety, double-spaced on a regular sheet of paper the regulations are over 400 pages so it will take some time. Analysis should come within the next few days.

To read the new regulations yourself click here.

The Hispanic Caucus and Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Seems there is some effort being made by the Hispanic Caucus lead by Luis Gutierrez, to get comprehensive immigration reform moving again. 

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill to be Introduced Tuesday by Rep. GutierrezPosted: 14 Dec 2009 03:59 PM PSTRep. Luis Gutierrez (D.-Ill.), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus task force on immigration, will be accompanied by other members of Congress on Tuesday, December 15, as he introduces a comprehensive immigration reform bill. We expect the legislation to include opportunities for many migrant and seasonal farmworkers to become eligible to adjust their immigration status.

His bill will be called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP). He posted a piece on the Huffingtonpost about the need for the bill.

Rep. Gutierrez is a also a cosponsor of the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act of 2009 (AgJOBS), H.R. 2414, the bipartisan labor/management compromise that addresses the specific needs of agricultural workers and employers. We expect Rep. Gutierrez’s CIR ASAP bill to benefit many farmworkers and family members through a comprehensive approach to immigration reform; we also anticipate that his bill will incorporate AgJOBS. Info on AgJOBS is available at our website.

   

Michael Glah, IPR President Charged in Visa Scheme

One of our clients sent me this news article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, about the criminal charges against Michael Glah, former President of an agency called International Personnel Resources (IPR) based in Pennsylvania.

IPR was a growing agency that assisted employers in filing paperwork so that they could employ foreign temporary workers, predominantly in the H2B visa category.

U.S. Attorneys said that this types of schemes are popping up all over the country.

Michael Glah, image from IPR website

Click here to read the article.

2010 H2B Cap Count Update

H2B cap data taken from USCIS website.

Fiscal Year 2010 H-2B Cap Count

Cap Type Cap Amount Beneficiaries Pending Beneficiaries Target 1  Total
Date of Last Count
H-2B 1st Half 33,000 2,256 47,000  31,186 12/11/09
H-2B
2nd Half
33,000 2 2,537 —– 2,537 12/11/09