In this file:
· H-2A Changes Could Fill Gap
· Trump administration to target legal immigrants who use public programs
H-2A Changes Could Fill Gap
by Rhonda Brooks, AgWeb
Aug 12, 2019
An average of 900,000 full-time jobs are available annually on U.S. crop farms, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), with many of those going unfilled. A Department of Labor proposed rule, announced on July 16, “to modernize and improve” the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program could change that. The program helps U.S. farmers fill employment gaps by allowing them to hire workers from other countries.
The Need Is Great
EPI reports almost half of H-2A jobs in 2016 were certified in five states, most dominated by dairy or produce farms — California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Washington.
Tom Karst, editor of Farm Journal’s The Packer, says the produce sector welcomes the proposed rule because the industry relies heavily on H-2A temporary workers.
“It looks like it’s an accelerated process for rule-making, and the changes could take effect by next year,” Karst notes.
The use of computerized technology to file job orders and applications is just one way the Department of Labor says it can simplify and speed-up the worker application process and make it possible for employers to stagger the entry of their H-2A employees on a single application.
Karst notes there also is an element in the 489-page proposed rule document that indicates the Department of Labor is evaluating H-2A worker wages, so they won’t compete with high-level, on-farm wage rates.
Expand Jobs, More Flexibility ...
Trump administration to target legal immigrants who use public programs
By Colleeen Long, Associated Press
via Star Tribune (MN) - August 12, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Monday that it is moving ahead with one of its most aggressive steps to restrict legal immigration, denying green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance.
Federal law already requires those seeking green cards and legal status to prove they will not be a burden to the U.S. — a "public charge" —but the new rules detail a broader range of programs that could disqualify them.
Much of President Donald Trump's effort to crack down on illegal immigration has been in the spotlight, but this rule change targets people who entered the United States legally and are seeking permanent status. It's part of a push to move the U.S. to a system that focuses on immigrants' skills instead of emphasizing the reunification of families.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers will now weigh public assistance along with other factors such as education, household income and health to determine whether to grant legal status.
The rules will take effect in mid-October. They don't apply to U.S. citizens, even if the U.S. citizen is related to an immigrant who is subject to them.
The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, said the rule change fits with the Republican president's message.
"We want to see people coming to this country who are self-sufficient," Cuccinelli said. "That's a core principle of the American dream. It's deeply embedded in our history, and particularly our history related to legal immigration."
Immigrants make up a small percentage of those who get public benefits. In fact, many are ineligible for public benefits because of their immigration status.
But advocates worry the rules will scare immigrants into not asking for help. And they are concerned the rules give too broad an authority to decide whether someone is likely to need public assistance at any time, giving immigration officials the ability to deny legal status to more people.
On average, 544,000 people apply annually for green cards, with about 382,000 falling into categories that would be subject to this review, according to the government...