Representatives of the nation's farmers have plowed through what they say may have been the final snag in a proposal for sweeping immigration reform—expected to be debated in the U.S. Senate in the next two weeks. The deal would see the creation of a so-called "blue card" for undocumented workers already in the United States.
The agreement—reached late Friday—would set the terms of wages, visas and working conditions for migrant workers. In effect, the blue card program would allow for up to 336,000 visas for undocumented farm workers.
Growers were arguing for lower wages and fewer visa limitations while labor unions sought higher wages and visa caps. The compromise was reached when labor leaders agreed to longer-lasting visas and growers agreed to foot the bill for housing and transportation costs while keeping slightly lower wages. Growers would ultimately pay visa holders for transportation in and out of the country as well as a housing allowance, if adequate housing is not provided.
A blue card would require at least two years of farm work and a commitment to work in agriculture for at least another five years.