House approves bill that gives farmworkers right to earn legal status

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FILE – In this May 13, 2004, file photo, worker Roberto Rosiles picks fruit at a Sand Hills Farms orchard in Arvin, Calif. Rosiles was one of about 140 workers who were told by supervisors to flee the orchard after pesticide fumes from an adjacent field sickened 19 workers. The nation’s most productive agricultural state moved Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, to ban chlorpyrifos a controversial pesticide widely used to control a range of insects but blamed for harming brain development in babies. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would give undocumented farmworkers the right to earn legal status.

H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, was approved by a 260-165 vote in the House, marking the first time in decades that the House has enacted an agriculture labor immigration bill. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California).

Today’s House vote … is the result of the tenacious leadership farm workers showed after traveling across the country to lobby on Capitol Hill,” said United Farm Workers Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “Legislators have voted in favor of protecting the people whose hands harvest the fruits and vegetables offered in congressional buildings’ cafeterias and all of American’s kitchen tables.”

Congressman TJ Cox has supported the bill and initiated the vote on the house floor.

“Getting people from both sides of the isle — farmers, ranchers and laborers — on the same page is no easy feat, so I am especially proud to support this legislation which will bring U.S. residents out of the shadows, protect their rights and stabilize the agricultural economy for future generations.”

The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration. 

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