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House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers

The House on Wednesday passed a bill granting legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers.

The bill comes on the heels of other efforts to provide legal status to undocumented immigrants in various fields, but this one received notable Republican support. The House passed the bill 260-165, allowing it to proceed to the Senate.

If passed, the bill would allow these immigrants to obtain citizenship, adjust a temporary employer-used program, and mandate that companies check whether workers are in the country legally, according to CNN.

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More than 300 agricultural groups in a November letter argued to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that the undocumented immigrant workforce is essential to supporting the industry and the U.S. economy, CNN reported.

“Due in large part to these outdated laws, undocumented workers now comprise about half of the farm workforce,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on the House floor. “But they are living and working in a state of uncertainty and fear, which contributes to the destabilization of farms across the nation.”

About 15 percent of workers in the industry are undocumented immigrants, according to a Pew Research Center study from last year.

President Trump’s administration has intensified immigration enforcement in recent months, including an August raid of food processing facilities in Mississippi that detained almost 700 undocumented immigrants.

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