Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has again introduced an agricultural guest-worker bill. Feinstein's legislation to legalize upward of 2 million illegal immigrant farm workers and their family members resembles similar bills regularly but unsuccessfully introduced since September 2003. A former opponent of the agricultural guest-worker proposal, Feinstein now says it is needed to keep farms in business.
The legislation combines streamlining the existing but infrequently used H-2A guest-worker program with a legalization plan for farm workers already in the United States illegally. Feinstein says there is a farm emergency in this country and most of it is caused by the absence of farm labor.
The illegal immigrant farm workers could attain temporary legal status after meeting certain criteria, including a commitment to keep working in agriculture for several years. Eventually, they could apply to become U.S. citizens.