Durbin Urges Senate To Pass Bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, today urged the Senate to pass the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would provide a path to lawful permanent residency for undocumented farmworkers and their family members. During the speech, Durbin thanked the countless farmworkers who have kept American families fed during the darkest days of the pandemic despite dangerous and difficult working conditions. There are an estimated 2.5 million farmworkers in America and roughly half are undocumented. Illinois is home to more than 20,000 farmworkers.

“According to the Environmental Working Group, more than a dozen states don't provide any form of PPE or COVID testing for farm workers, and there are no social distancing guidelines in place on these farms. In some cases workers arrive to the fields in tightly packed trucks and their crews reportedly share cups of water from the same cup during the day. I think it would be accurate to classify these working conditions as dangerous. But these essential workers don't have the luxury of being able to advocate for themselves because they are always under the shadow and risk of deportation. We in the Senate can change that,” Durbin said.

Durbin voiced his strong support for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, and urged his Senate colleagues to pass the bill and honor the essential undocumented farmworkers who have sacrificed so much during the past year.

“This legislation would fundamentally change the lives of hundreds of thousands of these farmworkers who came to our rescue during the darkest days of the pandemic, who kept working despite the threat of COVID-19 and the fact that they had few creature comforts of their own,” Durbin said.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.