Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Please read this proposed legislation being presented by the government today to address the agricultural immigration needs of the U.S.

This proposal is virtually identical to legislation enacted in the 1986 Act which resulted in thousands of fraudulent applications filed by illegal aliens. In my opinion today’s proposal invites the same disastrous result.

Section 2211 of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act which is currently being considered by the United States Senate has a special provision to grant amnesty to agricultural workers illegally in this country, called “Blue Card” status.

Specifically, the Act provides:

Section 2211: Blue Card Status Requirements

Prospective Blue Card workers who can document working in U.S. agriculture for a minimum of 100 work days or 575 hours in the two years prior to the date of enactment are eligible to adjust to Blue Card status.  Applicant must pass a security and a law enforcement background check in order to be eligible for the program just like any other Registered Provisional Immigrant. 

This provision is strikingly similar to Section 210 of the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act, which provided for amnesty for farm workers under the Special Agricultural Worker (SAW) program.

2) Definitions of SAW groups were as follows:

•     Group I : The applicant must have been employed in a qualifying agricultural occupation in the United States for 90 man-days in the aggregate (this means that the 90 days did not have to be consecutive and only one hour of work per day was required to equal a man-day) in each of the 12 month periods ending on May 1, 1984, 1985, and 1986. The applicant must also have resided in the United States for six months, in the aggregate, in each of those 12 month periods.

•     Group II :The applicant must have been employed in the United States for 90 man-days in the aggregate, in qualifying agricultural employment, during the 12 month period ending May 1, 1986. There is no United States residence requirement for SAW Group II.

In retrospect, it’s clear to see that the SAW program was rife with fraud, as illustrated in the two New York Times articles from 1988 which appear below. 

Farm Law Abused by Illegal Aliens
By PETER APPLEBOME, Special to the New York Times
Published: November 17, 1988
Tens of thousands of ineligible applicants are trying to become United States residents under program that was designed to give alien farm workers an easier way to gain legal status country.

More than a million aliens have applied under the program for seasonal agriculture workers, which was originally expected to accommodate perhaps 350,000 people. Immigration say a large portion of those applying now are not eligible but are using the relatively lax documentation requirements of the program as a last chance.

Under the law passed in 1986, illegal aliens had until May 4 to apply for legal status in this country, and most had to prove they lived here continuously since before Jan. 1, 1982.

An Exception Was Made

But in response to lobbying from agricultural interests, an exception to the law was made seasonal farm workers, who have until the end of this month. Those workers only had they were employed in the United States for at least three months between May 1, 1985, May 1, 1986, and the burden of proof was on the Federal Government in turning down applicants.

December 25, 1988
Fraud Charged in Program Giving Amnesty to Illegal Farm Workers

BUFFALO, Dec. 22— Government agents are investigating allegations of widespread fraud in a national amnesty program for farm workers in central and western New York, an immigration official said.

Forty percent of western New York amnesty program applications are believed fraudulent because farmers signed fake work papers for ''vendors'' who charged illegal immigrants up to $1,500 for the bogus documentation, Benedict J. Ferro, district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Buffalo said Tuesday.

As a result of the suspicions, Government agents are investigating fraud allegations in the Special Agricultural Worker amnesty program in western New York, Rochester and Syracuse, Mr. Ferro said.

The program is designed to give illegal alien farm workers a chance at American citizenship, but immigrants with no connection to farm work - including at least one doctor - are using papers obtained through the black market to abuse the process, Mr. Ferro said. Five Arrests in New York.

''We are running into a tremendous fraud problem in the Buffalo area and nationally,'' he said. ''In some areas of the nation, the percentage of fraud is believed to be 60 or 70 percent.''

Investigators have arrested five people in New York in connection with fraud schemes. The agricultural worker program is part of the amnesty plan made possible by the Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. It allows illegal immigrants who have performed at least 90 days of farm work between May 1985 and May 1986 to become legal United States residents and,
later, to apply for full citizenship.

The reform act also established sanctions to punish employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.

False Documentation

Many illegal aliens are filing false documents to the agency in hopes of establishing a legal residence here, Mr. Ferro said. Farmers, in some cases, have accepted payoffs to provide false documentation that immigrants worked for them, he added.

''In some cases in the Rochester area, we've learned that farmers received $500 to provide fake information and the vendors received $1,000 for each application,'' Mr. Ferro said.

''The fraud is so blatant that in one case near Rochester, we had an Indian doctor who worked at a hospital claiming that he had worked for three months picking watermelons.''

In a nine-month inquiry conducted by the immigration service and the United States Attorney's Office, undercover agents posing as migrant workers have infiltrated rings selling fraudulent applications in Lockport, Buffalo, Rochester, Oswego and Syracuse, the authorities said.

The last day of filing for the Special Agricultural Worker program was Nov. 30.

Do you think legislators have learned anything over the past 27 years? Apparently not.

Ben Ferro

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