Thursday, December 18, 2008

Immigration Rule Change

A migrant worker helps with 2008 Harvest--Putnam photo


Washington--In the 11th hour of the last term as U.S. President, George W. Bush announced new guest worker rules designed to lessen the bureaucratic burden on employers that hire foreign farm workers.

The changes apply to the H-2A, guest worker program that allows farmers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis for field jobs they cannot fill with Americans.

A Labor Department spokesman said that the final rules would be made public and published in the Federal Register on Dec. 18, which means they'd take effect two days before Barack Obama is sworn in as president Jan. 20.

According to the Department of Labor there are some 75,000 foreign guest workers that get visas annually under the H-2A program. The program is similar to the H-1B visa program used by the high-tech industry, designed to aid employers who are unable to find U.S. workers for specialized tasks.

Most farmers ignore the program because of red tape and delays that could cost farmers precious harvesting time. In California, the 5,000 H-2A workers are a fraction of the peak agriculture work force of 450,000, according to the California Farm Bureau.
The Labor Department released the changes in a document of more than 500 pages, the culmination of reviewing 11,000 comments since it proposed new regulations in February.
Here in Idaho there’s a seperate push under way to penalize companies for hiring illegal immigrants. JOHN THOMPSON, the director of public relations for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation joined Lou Dobbs on the Lou Dobbs Independent Nation radio show on Wednesday.

Here’s clip of the radio show:

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