Democratic lawmakers introduced a new legislation Thursday to give undocumented farmworkers an ability to earn a "blue card" and put them on the path to citizenship.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who represents the 19th District in Santa Clara County, drafted the the Agricultural Worker Program Act (H.R. 641) to allow farmworkers who have worked in the field for at least 100 days in the past two years to apply for a card that will allow them to work legally in the U.S.
"Farmers throughout California struggle mightily to find workers, and we all know that backbreaking farm labor is performed largely by undocumented immigrants," Feinstein said in a statement.
The lawmakers cited a University of California Davis study which estimated that up to 60 percent of California’s 421,000 farmworkers, approximately 253,000 people, are undocumented.
Once workers obtain the blue card and maintain it for three or five years, they can apply to become lawful permanent residence and obtain a green card.
"With this legislation, farmworkers will be able to improve their wages and working conditions, resulting in a more stable farm labor force and greater food safety and security to the benefit of American employers, workers, and consumers," Lofgren said.
The legislation has already received support from United Farm Workers, the county's largest farm workers union that was founded by Cesar Chavez.