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The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a bill last Friday called the STEM Project Jobs Act, sponsored by anti-immigrant GOP Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. The STEM Act would increase visas available for workers with careers in science, math and technology, and seek to  eliminate the visa lottery that is another way some immigrants have a chance to come to this country. Now the proposal goes for a vote in the U.S. Senate, controlled by a Democratic majority. The Obama administration has indicated its opposition

The United Farm Workers opposes this proposal. It is important to enact comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, addressing the issues and concerns affecting everyone in this country, including a path to citizenship. These new Americans want to become citizens and fully participate in the success and responsibilities of their new country. The farm workers who feed our nation and many other workers are vital to America's economy have earned the right to be considered for citizenship.

As part of major changes to fix our immigration process, Congress should also pass the AgJobs bill. This bipartisan, broadly supported measure that is supported by both the UFW and the nation's growers, would let professional farm workers already in our nation earn the legal right to permanently stay by continuing to work in agriculture.

Arturo S. Rodriguez, President
United Farm Workers of America