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NO. R‑140.  Joint resolution urging Congress to enact S. 340 or H.R. 371, the “Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2007” (the AgJOBS Act of 2007).

(J.R.S. 22)

By Senators Giard, Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Kittell, Nitka and White,

Whereas, agricultural operations in Vermont require many labor intensive jobs, and

Whereas, in search of individuals to accept these jobs, Vermont’s agricultural managers have turned to foreign workers, and

Whereas, the federal H‑2A program allows foreigners to enter the United States for seasonal employment in the agricultural sector, and

Whereas, for many years, Vermont apple orchards and other seasonal farm operations have availed themselves of the H‑2A program with great success, and

Whereas, unlike the apple harvesting season that lasts for a limited period of time in the late summer and early fall, dairy farming continues 365 days a year, and

Whereas, there are now approximately 2,000 foreign workers who are essential to their employer’s business operations and who are employed year‑round on dairy farms across the state, and

Whereas, the current H‑2A program addresses the need for seasonal agricultural labor but fails to meet the needs of year‑round dairy operations, and

Whereas, in order to enable these dairy farm employees and similarly situated persons in other states to remain on the job, S.340 and H.R.371, the AgJOBS Act of 2007, have been introduced in the United States Congress, and

Whereas, the provisions of the AgJOBS Act provide that undocumented foreign workers who satisfy further work requirements, have not committed serious criminal offenses, apply within the time limits provided, and are otherwise admissible under the provisions of federal immigration law, may be granted blue card status, and

Whereas, foreign workers granted blue card status would be considered “lawfully admitted for permanent residence” except for the receipt of certain federal benefits, and they would be afforded procedural rights and protections with respect to their employment, and

Whereas, the act contains provisions for a foreign worker who has been granted blue card status to gain permanent resident status subject to the completion of additional work requirements, the payment of any federal income taxes owed, and the absence of any major criminal activity, and

Whereas, the act also makes provisions for the residence of spouses and minor children, and

Whereas, the burden of producing documentation to qualify for an upgraded residency status would rest with the foreign worker, and

Whereas, the act also makes important revisions to the current H‑2A temporary worker program that provide employment preferences for American citizens and green card holders while affording procedural rights and minimum working conditions for the covered foreign workers, and

Whereas, S.340 and H.R.371 represent a fair balancing of the interests of the agricultural community, American workers, foreign workers, and the federal government’s legitimate need to protect the integrity of our nation’s borders, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges Congress to enact either S.340 or H.R.371, the “Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2007” (the AgJOBS Act of 2007), and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the members of the Vermont Congressional delegation.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont