The House of Representatives has been focused on passing legislation this month to address concerns over human trafficking. While much of this effort has little to do with the agriculture industry, one of the bills introduced in the House would pose significant concerns to agriculture producers if it were to move forward without necessary changes.
The Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination (FORTE) Act (H.R. 3344), introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) was intended to address abusive and coercive foreign recruiting practices. However, the original version would have gone much further than this expressed intent. The legislation would have created strict liability for employers and U.S. agents/attorneys preparing petitions for employers of foreign visa holders in the event abuses occurred by a recruiter in a foreign country. With input from the agriculture and business communities working with House Leadership, the legislation was redrafted to address many of these concerns and was re-introduced as H.R. 4586.
Still outstanding, is a bonding requirement for those using foreign recruiters. Efforts continue, to ensure all changes are made as the provisions of this legislation would apply to future visa programs as well as current H-2A visa users.
Western Growers has been working with the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR) legal team as well as the Ag Workforce Coalition and the broader business community to ensure this legislation does not move forward in a form that is unworkable for agricultural employers using visa holders. If this changes, we will alert Western Growers immediately, and may ask for you to weigh-in with your member of Congress.
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