Under the program, the Farm Bureau will contract with the National Immigration Forum to provide naturalization application services and counseling. The Farm Bureau will pay for immigration services that California farmers and ranchers request on behalf of their employees.
The services will include citizenship eligibility reviews, application preparation and case management. The partnership will also provide referrals for legal reviews of citizenship petitions as well as noncitizenship-related immigration inquiries.
Farm Bureau and the Immigration Forum will create an online portal to encourage eligible immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.
According to recent Department of Homeland Security estimates, an estimated 13.9 million green card holders lived in the U.S. with lawful resident status in 2019. As many as 9.2 million were eligible to apply to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson praised the partnership as an important step for farmers, ranchers and agricultural employees.
“Farm Bureau has long supported measures to improve the lives of California’s farm employees, including furnishing opportunities for those who are present in the United States with legal status as they engage in the critical work of producing food for California and the world,” Johansson said. “Offering farm employees who are eligible for U.S. citizenship a low-cost means to access citizenship puts them on a path to fully share in the American bounty they work every day to create.”
Since 2013, the National Immigration Forum has worked with some of America’s largest employers to help more than 10,000 employees and their family members become citizens.
“We value our relationship with California Farm Bureau, as the largest general membership agricultural organization in California,” said Emily Foster, vice president of corporate engagement at the National Immigration Forum. “The mission of the National Immigration Forum and New American Workforce is to assist immigrants who are eligible to access the benefits of full U.S. citizenship, and we are grateful to California Farm Bureau for giving us access to nearly 31,000 Farm Bureau members whose employees can benefit from the services we offer.”
The California Farm Bureau is a supporter of the federal Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021, which would reform the agricultural guest worker program and provide a path to legal status for farm employees.
“We have joined with worker advocates like the United Farm Workers calling for this program because we know that workers who are working legally in the U.S. or who have gained citizenship are empowered workers who can make choices for themselves and their families,” Johansson said. “Giving California agriculture’s employees legal status and citizenship gives them a full stake in the American dream, and that’s good for our farms, our communities and for America.”