Last month, a proposed bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers that will create a California work permit program for farmworkers and service industry employees without legal residency in the United Sates. The bill, Assembly Bill 1885 (AB 1885), was introduced by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) and Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) to try and solve the labor shortage in these two industries. It appears that efforts to increase housing and pay for farmworkers haven’t been successful at attracting more workers. At a press conference to introduce AB 1885, Assemblyman Garcia stated,
We see this labor shortage as a serious economic issue. We are very optimistic that this proposal will elevate the conversation to be looked at from the economic standpoint and the crisis that is before us.
AB 1885 would create a working group under two state agencies that would be tasked with developing a model work permit program. The group would then be required to submit its recommendations to the Legislature and the governor. It would then be up to the governor to make a formal request to the federal government that the work permit program be implemented. Garcia, Mathis and Caballero hope that their legislation will change the immigration debate in Washington. We will have to wait and see if the proposed bill is passed.