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House Democrat introduces bill to overhaul temporary guest worker visa program

Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroSunday shows preview: Washington prepares for an inauguration and impeachment; coronavirus surges across the US Pelosi names 9 impeachment managers Lawmaker to unveil bill ensuring nothing — 'no airport, no highway, no school' — is named after Trump MORE (D-Texas) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would overhaul the H-2B temporary guest worker visa program in an effort to prevent discrimination, elevate labor standards and give immigrant workers a path to citizenship.

Castro, the outgoing chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, said he wrote the bill to fix flaws in the H-2B visa system. The H-2B visas apply to seasonal workers in nonagricultural jobs.

The Seasonal Worker Solidarity Act has received endorsements by the AFL-CIO, as well as the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and other unions. It is also co-sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman-elect Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroBiden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds Tim Ryan, Rosa DeLauro giving free coffee and donuts to National Guard stationed at Capitol Trump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency MORE (D-Conn.) and several other Democrats. 

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Castro’s bill would require enhanced nationwide recruitment of U.S.-based workers, create an online database for workers to apply for positions, engage unions in the search for workers and prohibit background checks that are not legally required for a position.

The bill would put protections in place to avoid employers underpaying H-2B workers and allocate visas to employers who pay the highest wages and have the best working conditions, as well as bar employers who commit labor abuses from the program, among other provisions.

It would also offer workers and their families a path to citizenship after 18 months of H-2B employment and allow returning workers who have completed three years or more of H-2B work to adjust to lawful permanent resident status.

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE issued an executive order in June to suspend the issuance of certain temporary worker visas through the end of 2020, including H-2B visas. The Trump administration has cracked down on foreign work visas overall, arguing that American workers should be prioritized amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.