Hispanic Caucus demands protections for agricultural workers in next coronavirus bill

Hispanic Caucus demands protections for agricultural workers in next coronavirus bill
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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) called on legislative leaders Wednesday to include salary, social safety net and immigration protections for farmworkers in any future coronavirus relief packages.

In a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Overnight Health Care: Average daily COVID infections topped last summer's peak, CDC says | US reaches 70 percent vaccination goal a month after Biden's target | White House says CDC can't renew eviction ban Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPoll: Majority of voters say more police are needed amid rise in crime America's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthy58 percent say Jan. 6 House committee is biased: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE (R-Calif.), CHC members said "it has never been more important to ensure the well-being of our agricultural producers and workforce."

"Future legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic must include protections for these vital members of our communities," wrote California Democratic Reps. Jim CostaJames (Jim) Manuel CostaModerate Democrats call for 9/11-style panel to probe COVID-19 origins Biden waiving sanctions for Nord Stream 2 pipeline firm: report On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July MORE and Salud CarbajalSalud CarbajalBiden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead Capitol riots spark fear of Trump's military powers in final days House Democrats push Biden's Pentagon pick on civilian control of military MORE, who led the letter and were joined by the other 34 House CHC members.

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The lawmakers proposed that agricultural workers receive legal protections from deportation, as many of said workers are either undocumented or in the country on temporary guest worker visas.

To that end, they touted a bipartisan agricultural workforce bill, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act — passed by the House in December and yet to be brought up in the Senate — but said temporary emergency protections would be necessary until the bill's passage.

Costa and Carbajal also demanded that future legislation direct financial assistance toward agricultural workers, many of whom are not eligible to receive stimulus checks included in the most recent coronavirus package.

They added that agricultural workers should receive pandemic premium pay, sick pay and family leave.

The Trump administration is reportedly considering a plan to reduce farmworker salaries to help the agricultural industry sustain itself through the coronavirus lockdown.

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Meanwhile, the CHC members demanded statutory implementation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations at agricultural worksites, including on housing and transportation, and access to federal social programs for farmworkers.

"Farmworkers need our support. They should not live in fear," wrote Costa and Carbajal.

"As this crisis evolves and Congress continues to explore response packages, we stand ready to work with you to ensure these protections are made available. Hardworking farmworkers deserve and require our action. Their wellbeing and the stabilization of our food supply depend on these actions," they added.