STOCKTON — Luis Magana worked in the fields with his family for more than 20 years.
“I worked in asparagus season every year and I worked at picking cherries, grapes, peaches, cucumbers,” he told FOX40.
He’s now an activist for farmworkers and a strong supporter of the proposed “Blue Card” bill, introduced by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein last week.
The Agricultural Worker Program Act would allow farmworkers who are in the country illegally and have worked for at least 100 days in the fields over the last two years the opportunity to earn a blue card.
Those with the card could then travel to and from their home countries without fear of deportation.
“It’s very, very hard to enter to the United States now, or very expensive,” Magana said.
It would also chart a new path to possible citizenship.
If blue card holders continue to work the fields for three to five years, they’d then be able to apply for their green card to become a permanent legal resident.
“It’s good for the workers and good for the farm owners as well,” said Bruce Blodgett, the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation’s executive director.
Blodgett said the bill is a great first step for the agricultural industry.
“It’s estimated there’s a significant number of workers that are in this country that came in illegally,” Blodgett said. “They’re doing great work, they’re doing great things in helping us.”
He said the shortage of farmworkers is growing every year.
“In some instances, we’re not getting the crops to market,” Blodgett told FOX40. “We’re seeing crops that are literally spoiling on the vine, if you will. So it gives us an opportunity then to make sure we can keep up with the demands in agriculture to make sure we can get those products to the consumer ultimately.”
His only complaint is that the “Blue Card” bill doesn’t go far enough.
“It’s missing a critical link here and that’s not only the people that are here currently but a mechanism to bring people here in the future and to augment our workforce that is already here,” he said.
The proposed bill will have to pass the House and Senate before it would land on the president’s desk, where he could sign it into law or veto it.