Secret Moves: House Dems Trying To Pass 'Mass Amnesty' Amid Impeachment Chaos
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Amidst the impeachment chaos that has muddled up all aspects of lawmaking in DC, House Democrats have succeeded in passing a bill that has the potential to change the immigration status of thousands of migrant workers across the country.
From Fox News:
The House on Wednesday passed a contentious agricultural bill that would likely put more than a million illegal immigrants on a pathway to legal status as part of what supporters say is a vital modernization of the industry’s workforce -- but that immigration hawks blasted as a “large-scale amnesty.”
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed 260-165, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. The bill provides a process for undocumented farm workers to seek a temporary five-and-a-half-year “Certified Agricultural Worker” status if they have worked for approximately six months in the industry in the last two years.
That status can either be renewed indefinitely, or workers (along with their spouses and children) can begin a path to permanent legal status in the form of a green card. That path, according to the legislation, includes background checks and $1,000 fine.
To secure the green card, those who have worked in agriculture for 10 years or more must work for four more years, while those who've spent less than a decade in the sector would have to work eight more years. Once workers receive a green card, they are then free to pursue work in fields outside of agriculture.
The bill also streamlines the H-2A agriculture visa program, cutting processing time and costs for visa petitions. And it calls for the Department of Homeland Security to set up a pilot program that would give H-2A workers the ability to change jobs within the sector if they find work within two months.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the bill’s sponsor, said that it was a “historic” compromise and example of bipartisanship.
While there were members of both sides of the aisle that voted in support, it was far from balanced as evidenced by the fact that out of the 165 that voted against the bill, only 3 were Democrats.
So why did so many Republicans vote no?
The Hill sheds some light on the issue by briefly mentioning that "the Republican amendments were left out in the bill's markup."
So what were those amendments that were left out?
All three Colorado lawmakers who voted "no" cited the removal of work requirements for food-stamp recipients under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program that were in an earlier version of the bill, among other objections.
An earlier House-passed version included enhanced requirements for SNAP, which was also supported by the Trump administration, but those changes were a non-starter in the Senate and was never included in its version, nor in the bill's final compromise that emerged from a conference committee.
"I voted to pass the farm bill in the House when we had a good bill that helped farmers and enhanced work requirements for food stamp recipients," Buck told Colorado Politics. "The bill we considered on the floor [Wednesday] stripped out work requirements, expanded subsidies to individuals not directly involved in farming, and tossed out important forestry provisions.”
Buck's opposition to the subsidy changes applies to a House provision that expands the definition of family to include first cousins, nieces and nephews, making them eligible for payments under the program.
After pondering the Republican amendments that were left out, one can certainly see why the bill was "contentious," although Fox News states that "such a bill could have a shot in the Republican-controlled Senate."