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California Senators Propose Citizenship Path For Farm Workers

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California's U.S. Senators are taking on immigration reform by introducing a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the nation's undocumented farm workers.

Marc Grossman with the United Farm Workers walked with Cesar Chavez and wrote speeches for the civil rights activist.

"It's been an experience," said Grossman pointing to photos in his home office.

He says there is still work to do when it comes to workers' rights. A bill introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris last week is another attempt to reform immigration.

"It would let undocumented farm workers in this country now earn the right to stay by continuing to work in agriculture," explained Grossman.

Undocumented workers who spend 100 days a year in the fields could get a blue card and after several years of continued work, they would be eligible for a green card.

"If not for them, Americans would not be able to give thanks at their dinner table every day," said Grossman.

According to a UC Davis study, about 70 percent of California's farm workers are undocumented.

The blue card debate has been going on since the mid-2000s. It was in 2013 that a version of the bill passed the Senate with support from more than 60 Senators on both sides of the aisle.

"The program has what's called the blue card program for workers that are in this country and have been working ag for a period of time," explained Feinstein during a 2013 committee hearing.

The bill was eventually defeated in the house of representatives. Grossman says there may be a similar outcome this time around now that Democrats are the minority.

He says the discussion about worker's rights is still a step in the right direction.

"It's important to have it help form the debate," said Grossman.

The bill has support from Senators in Vermont, Colorado, and Hawaii.

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