SFGAte.com

Washington - ? Two of California?s most immigrant-dependent industries - agriculture and Silicon Valley - are pushing narrow measures through Congress in an effort to employ foreign workers at opposite ends of the labor market, people who pick vegetables and the postgraduate engineers and scientists of Silicon Valley.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein attached a farm guest-worker program to the giant Iraq spending bill Thursday in a last-ditch effort to remedy a shortage of workers in California?s produce fields as the federal government continues to crack down on illegal immigration and the political climate proves hostile to more sweeping measures.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, teaming with Republicans, is pushing several bills to give permanent residence to top engineering talent.

?It?s an emergency,? Feinstein said of the farmworker situation. ?If you can?t get people to prune, to plant, to pick, to pack, you can?t run a farm.?

Her addition to the Iraq spending bill would give temporary legal status to 1.3 million farmworkers over the next five years, but it would provide no path to citizenship or permanent residency. It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 17-12 on Thursday.

Workers applying for the program would have to prove they had worked on U.S. farms for at least 150 days or 863 hours, or had earned at least $17,000 during the last four years. They would have to remain working in agriculture for the next five years, when the program would expire.
Citizenship on hold

The move marks an end for now to efforts to give farmworkers a path to citizenship after a sweeping immigration bill crashed in the Senate last June. Feinstein has been trying all year to attach a bill called AgJobs but has met nothing but dead ends.

Western Growers, representing California farmers, and the United Farm Workers of America union joined in backing the bill. Western Growers President Tom Nassif said large growers are accelerating efforts to move their farming operations to Mexico. The 15 growers out of several hundred who responded to a survey and were willing to talk about their plans moved 84,000 acres worth of crop production to Mexico this year, twice as many acres as last year, Nassif said.

?Once the acreage moves to Mexico, it?s there permanently,? Nassif said. ?Much of the remaining open space in California is agricultural land. If it?s not farmed, we?d be growing condos or cementing it over with office buildings.?

The tightening of the border has made it increasingly difficult, dangerous and expensive for laborers to return to the United States if they leave, disrupting the traditional circular flow of farmworkers from Mexico to California?s fields in the Salinas and Central valleys. Most farmworkers arrive illegally, and farmers complain that an existing guest worker program called H2A is cumbersome and ineffective. Feinstein?s bill would streamline that program?s rules.
Threat of fines worrisome

Growers are apprehensive about a new administration effort, temporarily stopped by a federal court, that would require employers to match workers with a valid Social Security number or be heavily fined. The Department of Homeland Security is refining the rule to get past court objections.

United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez said farming is facing ?a very real emergency? and applauded the bill as a ?critical but temporary fix to a much larger problem.?

Feinstein acknowledged that the chances of getting the bill all the way through Congress, even attached to war spending, is ?uphill all the way.?

On the other side of the Capitol, Lofgren is teaming with conservative Republicans to try to push similar discretely targeted measures for Silicon Valley. She has dropped efforts for now to expand the controversial H-1B program for temporary high-skilled workers, which again this year ran out of its 85,000 visas on the first day they were released. Lofgren said the program needs changes, given its wide use by Indian offshoring companies.
5 low-key bills in works

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12 Responses to “Feinstein, Lofgren Push for More Immigrant Workers”
  1. smp says:

    These farm owners use illegals for slave labor instead of mechanizing. Witht he estimated 20 plus million illegals in this country and none want to do this work they bring in more. It is like a gateway for them, they do it for a couple of months then start moving in on other industries. I say force the farmers to hire who is in this country now, or pay better wages or mechanize. They have helped create this mess by threatening expensive lettuce etc. No one is stupid enough to think they will pick lettuce for 2.00 an hour forever either, they get in then move on. Call Frankefeinstein and tell her she stinks….

  2. smp says:

    Was supposed to be FRANKENFEINSTEIN…

  3. Mountain ManNo Gravatar says:

    Its a good thing their are ladies on this site, because right now I could go foul mouthed typing bigtime. I hate that broom riding BI^<H feinstein and boxer to. As long as their in office Califonria is screwed.

  4. AngelNo Gravatar says:

    Lou Dobbs sounded much like you tonight, Mountain Man, when he spoke of Feinny baby’s hidden scheme.

  5. ChinaWallNo Gravatar says:

    This is incorrect:
    “Her addition to the Iraq spending bill would give temporary legal status to 1.3 million farmworkers over the next five years, but it would provide no path to citizenship or permanent residency”.

    They would get to stay here 5 years (Green Cards) with family so that is 1.35 times about 4 per family equals nealry 4 million more. Two million people are given citizenship each year as it is and this will not count on that tabulation.

    They will get the path to citizenship as well!

  6. melodyNo Gravatar says:

    Growers President Tom Nassif said large growers are accelerating efforts to move their farming operations to Mexico.

    I thought businesses go bankrupt a few years after moving to Mexico? hahah, move your operations to a corruption filled toilet. I thought what made the U.S. jobs so alluring where the anchor baby benefits.

    No path to citizenship? As long as the media knows how to tell a sob story they know anything is possibe as long as they can get themselves over here. Amnesty is always a possibility.

  7. joNo Gravatar says:

    the american framers that have moved their operations to mexico are whinning their a$$es off. their mexican help down there doesn’t want to work for the 7 dollars an hour they are suppose to be paying them. they say that the workers don’t put in full days and are triflling. but i thought these people were such hard workers lol!
    they work like mexicans in mexico you know, on the mayana schedule.

    by the way, i keep hearing about all these ag workers needed here, but when i go to the store most of the produce is from somewhere other than the good ole usa. pelouski is a illegal hiring employer. her vineyards are full of them. i have seen pictures of the illegals going to her home and her coming out to her front lawn to talk to them and tell them not to worry ,she’ll take care of them. she’ll get the sh*t passed. she is really into that patron b*llsh*t. that skinnya$$ b*t*h needs to be tried for treason. there! i said it for you, Mountain Man. LOL!

  8. USMCwife says:

    I am here in the Salinas valley, aka “Salad Bowl of America” and I can assure that there is NO farm worker shortage. My college age kids are finding it awfully hard to find work, and they are willing to do anything. They have picked strawberries and lettuce as high school students.

    However, what Salinas DOES have is a major PR problem. Two murders in two days, four driveby shootings in one day in broad daylight, a growing gang and ID theft problem, even thugs who travel to Monterey to prey on military students on paydays, robbing, beating and stealing from unarmed military kids.
    But hey! gotta keep that illegal pipeline up and running! It’s what’s good for America — and upper income Democrats who need cheap and compliant labor.

    I made some calls today although I doubt it will make much of a difference. I hope that this gets stripped out from the bill on Wed when the whole Senate votes.

  9. FayeNo Gravatar says:

    I liked what Lou Dobbs said tonight: They have no honor; they are dishonorable.

  10. seven_staarten says:

    this would be bad even if it also required sterilization for all participants … FAIR email:

    Amnesty Amendment Added to Iraqi War Funding Bill!
    Call Your Senators Now!!

    Late Thursday afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee attached several immigration amendments - including an amnesty amendment - to the Iraq War Funding Bill. By doing so, members of the Senate Finance Committee not only snuck controversial amendments into a bill that funds our servicemen and women, but they chose to attach guest worker amnesty provisions that the American people flatly rejected in 2007! These amendments are designed to allow corporations to import hundreds of thousands of additional guest workers at a time when the U.S. economy is struggling.

    The Iraq War Funding Bill could be on the Senate floor as early as NEXT WEEK as Senators try to finish business before the Memorial Day recess. FAIR is asking all members, activists, and friends to call their Senators NOW and tell them you oppose these measures!

    Two of the amendments adopted in the Senate Appropriations Committee were provisions rejected in last year’s Bush-Kennedy Amnesty Bill (S.1639). These include:

    (1) The Feinstein AgJOBS Amendment. This amendment, authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), grants 5-year amnesty visas to 1.35 million illegal alien agricultural workers plus their families by granting them “emergency worker status.” The amendment also:

    Grants work authorization to beneficiaries and their spouses;
    Grants travel authorization to beneficiaries and their families;
    Otherwise treats beneficiaries as green card holders (legal permanent residents); and
    Prohibits beneficiaries from being prosecuted for social security fraud and related identity theft crimes.
    To qualify for the amnesty program, an illegal alien must show he or she was employed at least 150 days or earned at least $7,000.00 in the agricultural sector in the 48 months ending December 31, 2007. The alien will then pay a fee of $250.00 and receive an identification card evidencing his or her legal status.

    (2) The Mikulski H-2B Amendment. This amendment, authored by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), will increase the number of unskilled H-2B guest workers by reinstating the returning worker exemption for a period of three years. This exemption (which expired last year) allows guest workers who entered the U.S. through the H-2B guest worker program in the previous three years to return without counting towards the 66,000 cap. This exemption could lead to exponential growth in the H-2B program, potentially increasing the number of unskilled H-2B guest workers by over 200,000 in just a few years.

    But the Senate Appropriations Committee didn’t stop there! It adopted two other immigration amendments intended to appease special interests and corporations. The Murray-Gregg Amendment, authored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), increases the number of employment-based green cards available for multinational executives and so-called “high-tech” workers by “recapturing” approximately 218,000 unused visas from as far back as 1994. The Leahy Amendment, authored by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), extends the duration of a program that helps rich investors obtain green cards.

    Please call your Senators NOW and tell them you are appalled that these are the priorities of the United States Senate! Tell your Senators that the only immigration legislation you want taken up in Congress is true immigration reform legislation that restores common sense to our system, secures our borders, and imposes tough sanctions on employers who exploit cheap foreign labor.

    To find the phone numbers of your Senators:
    http://www.fairus.org/site/R?i.....qkBoJF3wA..

  11. joNo Gravatar says:

    Prohibits beneficiaries from being prosecuted for social security fraud and related identity theft crimes.

    well me thinks that that sums it all up. they are truly about the law! pelouseski and all who pass this or sanction this should be arrested immediately and charged with treason. it doesn’t get anymore blantant then this!

  12. joNo Gravatar says:

    just a few of he many definitions of what constitutes treason. any and all fit.

    TREASON - This word imports a betraying, treachery, or breach of allegiance.

    The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort. This offence is punished with death. By the same article of the Constitution, no person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
    –b?

    Definitions of treason on the Web:
    ? a crime that undermines the offender’s government
    ? disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
    ? treachery: an act of deliberate betrayal
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
    ? In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to one’s nation. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: “… …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treason
    ? A crime against the government of a country. When citizens of a country try to set up their own government and get rid of the government in power, they are often charged with treason.
    http://www.collectionscanada.ca/2/2/h2-1800-e.html
    ? a purposeful betrayal, usually constituting aid to one’s enemies
    http://www.gradesaver.com/clas.....terms.html
    ? the betrayal of one’s country.
    library.thinkquest.org/J003358F/terms.html

    ncyclopedia:
    Aid and Comfort
    This entry contains information applicable to United States law only.
    To render assistance or counsel.
    Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution specifies that the giving of aid and comfort to the enemy is an element in the crime of treason.
    Aid and comfort may consist of substantial assistance or merely attempting to provide some support. Actual help or the success of the enterprise is not necessary. Any act that deliberately strengthens or tends to strengthen enemies of the United States or that weakens or tends to weaken the power of the United States to resist and attack such enemies is characterized as aid and comfort.
    1. Violation of allegiance toward one’s country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one’s country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.
    2. A betrayal of trust or confidence.
    [Middle English, from Anglo-Norman treson, from Latin tr?diti?, tr?diti?n-, a handing over. See tradition.]

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