FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 24, 2018
Contact: Press@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) released the following statement after Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this afternoon that their departments are working together to simplify the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program:
“I have worked in Congress on behalf of Kentucky farmers and all other employers who rely on the H-2A program to streamline the application process, create greater government accountability, and increase the program’s flexibility to meet reality. I am encouraged to see the administration respond to the push for reform, and I applaud President Trump and his Cabinet for working to continue the progress we have made to reduce the heavy bureaucratic burden Washington has placed on the American people and our economy.”
Previously, farmers have reported massive financial losses due to H-2A application delays, and excessive paperwork has resulted in backlogs lasting 30 days or longer at both the Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In July 2017, Dr. Paul reintroduced the Paperwork Reduction for Farmers Act (S. 1578) to create a more efficient process for farmers applying for new H-2A workers or reapplying for the same employees. He previously introduced the legislation in 2016.
You can find the text of the Paperwork Reduction for Farmers Act and a summary of its provisions below:
The Paperwork Reduction for Farmers Act:
• Creates a simplified application for employers hiring returning workers and guarantees worker approval pending any necessary security checks. Farmers must currently reapply for their returning H-2A employees as if they were new workers;
• Allows multi-employer joint contracts so workers are guaranteed their hours without farmers struggling to find either enough work for employees or extra workers when there is too much to do;
• Enables farmers to apply for workers with staggered start and end dates on the same application, eliminating a massive paperwork burden;
• Updates a system that still often relies on snail mail by directing USCIS to create an online “Request for Evidence” (RFE) system, which would then require USCIS to provide an update within ten business days instead of delaying the process for weeks;
• Provides due process by requiring the government to promptly give a reason for the denial or delay of H-2A workers to the employer and to provide a reasonable time to remedy the problem;
• Widens eligibility by including livestock workers (including dairy and poultry) and equine workers as qualifying H-2A employees;
• Speeds up approval process for replacement workers should hires prematurely abandon their position or fail to appear for employment, ensuring farmers are not left short-handed for the season.