[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 152 (Monday, August 8, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 52461-52464]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-18753]


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LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION


Final Agricultural Worker Population Estimates for Basic Field--
Agricultural Worker/Migrant Grants

AGENCY: Legal Services Corporation.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announces implementation 
of new population estimates of agricultural workers that LSC will use 
for distribution of funds among grants for providing civil legal 
services to those workers and their dependents (Agricultural Worker 
Grants, formerly referred to as Migrant Grants). LSC will phase in 
application of these updated estimates over two years. For all 
Agricultural Worker Grant service areas, one half of the transition 
will occur in 2017 and the full changes will occur in 2018. This action 
takes into consideration public comments received as a result of three 
notices for public comment LSC published in the Federal Register. 80 FR 
5791 (February 3, 2015); 81 FR 6295 (February 5, 2016); and 81 FR 19245 
(April 4, 2016). LSC will also obtain updated population estimates of 
agricultural workers every three years for recalculation on the same 
statutory cycle as LSC obtains updated poverty-population data from the 
U.S. Census Bureau for the distribution of LSC's Basic Field Programs 
appropriation. Future changes in Agricultural Worker Grants based on 
updated population estimates will be implemented in a single year and 
not phased in, consistent with how LSC implements changes in the 
distribution of Basic Field grants. This notice summarizes LSC's 
development of the final estimates and discusses the revisions LSC made 
in response to public comment.

DATES: Effective September 7, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Freedman, Senior Associate 
General Counsel, Legal Services Corporation, 3333 K St. NW., 
Washington, DC 20007; 202-295-1623 (phone); 202-337-6519 (fax); 
mfreedman@lsc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    This notice completes the Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) 
process of revising the estimates of LSC-eligible agricultural workers 
for distribution of funds through Basic Field--Agricultural Worker 
Grants (Agricultural Worker Grants, formerly referred to as Migrant 
Grants). LSC provided a detailed background and discussion of the need 
for updating these estimates in the notice for public comment published 
in the Federal Register on February 3, 2015. 80 FR 5791. LSC has posted 
at www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data all notices, comments received, and 
materials relating to this process.
    Briefly summarized, LSC will revise these population estimates for 
three reasons. First, the estimates currently used are based on 
outdated information from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Second, the 
estimates currently used do not include the entire population of 
agricultural workers that LSC expects grantees to serve with 
Agricultural Worker Grants, which includes both migrant and non-migrant 
agricultural workers (this also explains the change in the name of 
these grants from Migrant Grants to Agricultural Worker Grants). Third, 
the current estimates do not take into account the portion of the 
population that is not eligible for LSC-funded legal services.
    LSC contracted with the Department of Labor's Employment and 
Training Administration (ETA) to obtain updated estimates of the size 
and distribution of the population of agricultural workers and their 
dependents eligible for LSC-funded services. ETA subcontracted with JBS 
International, Inc. (JBS or ETA contractor) to use Department of Labor 
and other government data to develop these estimates. In January 2015, 
ETA provided LSC with JBS's initial estimates (including state-by-state 
breakdowns) which ETA determined were technically sound. See Memorandum 
from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training 
Administration (January 21, 2015) transmitting the JBS memorandum 
``Estimating the National Size and State Distribution of the LSC-
Eligible Population'' (January 19, 2015) at www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data 
(February 2015 Notice--Initial Estimates, LSC Management Report 
Appendices, Appendix A).
    On February 3, 2015, LSC published a notice in the Federal Register 
seeking comments on LSC's proposal to implement the January 2015 
methodology and resulting estimates provided by ETA. 80 FR 5791. See 
``LSC Management Report--LSC Agricultural Worker Population Estimate 
Update'' (January 30, 2015) at www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (February 
2015 Notice--Initial Estimates, LSC Management Report). In response to 
this notice, LSC received eleven comments, which LSC has published at 
www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data. Based on those comments, LSC obtained 
revised estimates from ETA, which LSC published on its Web site and 
through the Federal Register for further public comment along with 
LSC's response to the first eleven comments on February 5, 2016. 81 FR 
6295 and www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (February 2016 Notice--Revised 
Estimates). In support of the notice, LSC provided a comprehensive 
table

[[Page 52462]]

detailing specific data sources and revised calculations. See ``Table 
I--Updated Estimates of the Size and Geographic Distribution of The 
LSC-Eligible Agricultural Worker Population and the Sources and 
Calculations Used to Develop Those Estimates'' (January 20, 2016) at 
www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (February 2016 Notice--Revised Estimates, 
Tables I-VII). In response to the second notice LSC received three 
comments that are discussed in detail below.
    On April 4, 2016, LSC published on its Web site and in the Federal 
Register a notice for comment on a proposal from the Michigan Advocacy 
Program (MAP) to use certain Michigan-specific estimates. 81 FR 19245 
and www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (April 2016 Notice--Revisions to the 
Michigan Estimate). LSC received one comment from MAP itself in 
response to this notice. MAP's comment included 2015 administrative 
data to support its view that LSC should adjust certain assumptions 
underlying the estimates of dependents eligible for LSC-funded 
services. LSC asked ETA to review the three comments filed in response 
to the second notice and MAP's additional comment to identify which, if 
any, of the commenters' recommendations would improve the accuracy of 
the estimates of the LSC-eligible agricultural worker population and, 
as appropriate, provide revised estimates of the LSC-eligible 
agricultural worker population. ETA subcontracted with JBS to perform 
this work. ETA transmitted to LSC the JBS analysis, which ETA found 
technically sound. See Memorandum from the U.S. Department of Labor 
Employment and Training Administration (July 26, 2016) transmitting the 
JBS memorandum ``Assessment of Technical Comments Concerning the 
Methodology for Estimating the Number and Geographic Distribution of 
Agricultural Workers Who are Eligible for Services Provided by the 
Legal Services Corporation (LSC), for ETA Review'' (July 6, 2016) at 
www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (August 2016 Notice--Final Estimates, 
Appendix A) (hereafter ``July 2016 ETA and JBS Memorandum'').

II. Summary of Comments and Key Changes to LSC'S Estimates

    In the second notice, 81 FR 6295 (February 5, 2016), LSC identified 
three areas for additional public comment: (1) ETA's methodology and 
data after further analysis of the data was conducted; (2) newly 
proposed estimates of aliens within the agricultural worker population 
who are eligible under 45 CFR Sec.  1624.4 for services from LSC 
grantees based on sexual abuse, domestic violence, trafficking, or 
other abusive or criminal activities; and (3) proposals of available 
and reliable state- or region-specific data for augmenting the ETA data 
in individual states. With this notice, LSC published a memorandum 
explaining LSC's proposed methodology and estimates of the agricultural 
worker population eligible under 45 CFR Sec.  1626.4. See ``Estimate of 
the Population of Agricultural Workers Eligible for LSC Funded Services 
Pursuant to 45 CFR Sec.  1626.4--Anti-Abuse Laws'' (January 20, 2016) 
available at www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (February 2016 Notice--Revised 
Estimates, Appendix A).
    LSC received one comment from the National Legal Aid and Defender 
Association (NLADA) Agricultural Worker Project Group. LSC also 
received comments from two grantees: Michigan Advocacy Program (MAP) 
and Puerto Rico Legal Services. Both comments are published at 
www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data.
    The comments expressed continued support for LSC's efforts to 
update the estimates of agricultural workers in the United States who 
are eligible for LSC services. The comments also supported (with the 
exception discussed in Section E below) LSC's proposed methodology and 
resulting estimates of aliens within the agricultural worker population 
eligible for services from LSC grantees based on sexual abuse, domestic 
violence, trafficking, or other abusive or criminal activities under 45 
CFR Sec.  1626.4.
    Generally, the concerns raised by the commenters fell into six 
categories. As discussed in detail below, LSC has revised its final 
estimates to incorporate all but two of the changes proposed in the 
comments.

A. Concerns Regarding the ETA Estimates of Eligible Farmworker 
Dependents

    NLADA and Michigan Advocacy Program asserted that the ETA estimates 
of farmworker dependents for LSC-funded services (based on ETA's 
``country of birth'' method) were too low because they were based on 
what NLADA and MAP believed were two erroneous assumptions: (1) That 
foreign-born adult children (18 or older) would be ``authorized' (that 
is, meet the eligibility requirements of Part 1626) only if they had at 
least one parent or spouse born in the U.S., and (2) that spouses and 
other farmworker relatives in farmworker households would be authorized 
only if they themselves are U.S.-born.
    Both commenters urged LSC to revise its estimates of dependents 
eligible for LSC-funded services by directing ETA to change these 
assumptions and include in the estimate of ``authorized'' dependents 
(1) all adult children of farmworkers whom the National Agricultural 
Workers Survey (NAWS) has identified as ``authorized,'' not just those 
children born in the U.S., and (2) all spouses of farmworkers whom the 
NAWS has identified as ``authorized,'' not just those spouses who are 
born in the U.S.
    After reviewing these comments, ETA determined that a revision of 
the estimation methodology could provide a more accurate estimate of 
the number of authorized dependents. See ``July 2016 ETA and JBS 
Memorandum.'' Table V, which LSC is publishing on its Web site, shows 
the impact this revision has on the population estimates. See ``Table 
V--Number of LSC-Eligible Agricultural Worker Dependents by State: 
Comparison of February 2016 and Final Estimates'' at www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (August 2016 Notice--Final Estimates, Tables I-VI).

B. Concerns Regarding the Estimates of the Number of Agricultural 
Workers With Pending I-130 Petitions; Political Asylum Seekers; 
Refugees; or Individuals Granted Withholding of Deportation, Exclusion 
or Removal

    NLADA expressed concern that LSC's estimates undercounted the 
number of agricultural workers or dependents who are authorized because 
(1) they have pending I-130 petitions and a requisite relationship with 
a U.S. citizen child, spouse, or parent or (2) are political asylum 
seekers; refugees; or individuals granted withholding of deportation, 
exclusion or removal. The comments asserted that the NAWS survey does 
not adequately capture the relevant data because an interviewer, when 
asking about an individual's immigration status, is only required to 
list specific immigration statuses (such as a pending I-130 petition) 
if ``necessary.'' The comments stated that many agricultural workers, 
in response to survey questions, correctly state that they are 
``unauthorized'' but are not asked a follow-up question whether they 
have a pending I-130 petition or are in situations that may otherwise 
qualify them for LSC-funded services under 45 CFR part 1626 (LSC 
regulation providing categories of aliens eligible for legal assistance 
under anti-abuse laws and based on immigration status).
    NLADA requested that LSC develop revised estimates based on data 
from governmental sources (e.g., U.S. Citizenship and Immigration 
Services or

[[Page 52463]]

the State Department) and other ``reputable studies.'' NLADA maintained 
that these data sources ``should make it possible to estimate, at least 
on a national basis, the number'' of farmworkers who would be eligible 
for LSC-funded services because they have pending I-130 petitions. 
NLADA asserted that ``the same analysis applies to those who are LSC-
eligible because they are asylum seekers, refugees and granted 
withholding of deportation and are LSC-eligible but who might not be 
identified through the NAWS survey.''
    LSC requested that ETA review these comments. After reviewing these 
comments, ETA determined that the NAWS would capture necessary 
information about respondents who might be LSC-eligible because they 
are political asylum seekers, refugees, or have temporary protective 
status. Therefore, no adjustment in the estimation formula was needed 
to improve the accuracy of the estimates of these individuals.
    ETA acknowledged that some respondents with pending I-130s, 
however, may not have been correctly identified, as the NAWS 
questionnaire does not include a question that directly asks if the 
respondent has a pending I-130 and, as a result, the methodology in the 
estimates published on February 5, 2016, could underestimate the number 
of these individuals who might be LSC-eligible. Accordingly, the 
estimation methodology was revised to improve the accuracy of this 
estimate. See ``July 2016 ETA and JBS Memorandum.'' LSC is publishing 
on its Web site Table IV, which identifies the effects this change has 
on the population estimates. See ``Table IV--Number of LSC-Eligible 
Agricultural Workers by State: Comparison of February 2016 and Final 
Estimates'' at www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (August 2016 Notice--Final 
Estimates, Tables I-VI).

C. Requests To Use the Most Recent Data on the Number of H-2A and H-2B 
Workers

    Michigan Advocacy Program and NLADA requested that LSC revise its 
estimates to reflect more current data regarding the population of H-2A 
agricultural workers and H-2B forestry workers. The comments urged LSC 
to incorporate Department of Labor data on the number of H-2A and H-2B 
positions certified nationwide in FY 2015 because these data 
demonstrate a substantial increase in the number of H-2A workers since 
2012.
    The estimates of the number and geographic distribution of 
agricultural workers eligible for LSC-funded services are based on a 
variety of 2012 data sources. Although there are more recent data for 
H-2A agricultural workers and H-2B forestry workers, more recent data 
are not available from the Census of Agriculture, which provided 
substantial data in the estimation methodology. JBS's recommendation, 
which ETA has endorsed, is to use 2012 data for H-2A agricultural 
workers and H-2B forestry workers for consistency with the 2012 data 
from the other information sources used in the estimation formula. See 
``July 2016 ETA and JBS Memorandum.''

D. Requests for LSC To Reconsider the Use of Data and Resulting 
Estimates Reported by the NAWS Twelve-Region Sampling Groups

    NAWS data are reported for twelve-region sampling strata and six-
region analysis groupings; the six region data have lower relative 
standard errors (RSEs) than the twelve region data. Both NLADA and 
Michigan Advocacy Program expressed concern with ETA's use of NAWS 
twelve-region sampling group data to estimate the state-level 
populations of agricultural workers, because reliance on NAWS twelve-
region data produced less reliable estimates than would six-region data 
and resulted in characterizations of state farmworker populations in 
some states, which were inconsistent with the commenters' first-hand 
knowledge about the state-level demographics and status of farmworkers 
and their dependents. To reduce the likelihood of these anomalies, the 
commenters urged LSC to revise its estimates of LSC-eligible 
agricultural workers by using the NAWS six-region data instead of the 
NAWS twelve-region data.
    LSC asked ETA to consider these comments. ETA endorsed JBS's 
analysis that the use of the NAWS six-region data would result in more 
robust estimates because the RSEs of the estimates are lower at the 
six-region level than they are at twelve-region level. See ``July 2016 
ETA and JBS Memorandum.'' Accordingly, ETA provided and LSC will use 
revised estimates based on NAWS six-region data.

E. Concerns Over the Calculation of the Population Eligible Pursuant to 
Anti-Abuse Provisions of 45 CFR 1626.4

    The comments from NLADA and Michigan Advocacy Program stated that 
LSC's estimates of the population of people who are eligible pursuant 
to the anti-abuse provisions of 45 CFR 1626.4 were based on an 
incorrect poverty level standard. ETA agrees with these comments and 
has revised the estimates using the correct poverty level standard. 
LSC's final estimates reflect this correction. Table VI identifies the 
effects this change has on the population estimates. See ``Table VI--
Number of Unauthorized and Below-Poverty Farmworkers Eligible for LSC-
Funded Services Pursuant to Anti-Abuse Provisions of 45 CFR 1626.4 by 
State: Comparison of February 2016 and Final Estimates'' at 
www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (August 2016 Notice--Final Estimates, Tables 
I-VI).

F. Proposals To Use Alternate Methodologies and Data Sources To 
Estimate Individual State Agricultural Worker Populations

    In response to the February 5, 2016 public notice, LSC received one 
proposal to use alternate methodologies and data sources to estimate 
agricultural worker populations for individual states: Michigan 
Advocacy Program proposed alternative methods, data sources and 
estimates of the agricultural worker population in Michigan. In 
response to the April 4, 2016 public notice, MAP provided additional 
information to support its proposed alternative methods and estimates. 
LSC asked ETA to analyze the methods, data sources and population 
estimates MAP proposed. ETA endorsed JBS's assessment that MAP's 
proposed methodology and data do not produce estimates that are more 
accurate than the published estimates because the majority of those 
data sources ``do not have eligibility guidelines concerning household 
poverty and alien status that are consistent with the LSC criteria.'' 
These agencies were Migrant Health Centers that can provide. See ``July 
2016 ETA and JBS Memorandum'' (JBS's Response to Recommendation 6). 
Therefore, LSC declines to adopt the alternate estimates provided by 
the Michigan Advocacy Program. Some of MAP's proposals were, in effect, 
accepted as a result of the changes in the ETA methodology discussed 
above in sections A and B.
    Puerto Rico Legal Services also submitted additional data and 
comments regarding the agricultural worker population in Puerto Rico. 
In its comment, Puerto Rico Legal Services explained the inherent 
difficulty in calculating this population. LSC commends Puerto Rico 
Legal Services for working with local government agencies to seek to 
obtain actual and realistic data concerning the number of local and 
migrant workers on the island. However, because these data have not yet 
been developed, LSC will not revise its estimates of the agricultural 
worker population in Puerto Rico.

[[Page 52464]]

III. Conclusion

    As discussed herein, LSC will implement these final estimates for 
Basic Field--Agricultural Worker grants by distributing funding among 
all of the existing Agricultural Worker grant service areas for 2017 
grants at a 50% implementation level (compared with the 2016 
distribution) and then for 2018 and successive years at a 100% 
implementation level. LSC will also obtain updated population estimates 
of agricultural workers every three years for recalculation on the same 
statutory cycle as LSC obtains updated poverty-population data from the 
U.S. Census Bureau for the distribution of LSC's Basic Field Programs 
appropriation. LSC is publishing on its Web site the following revised 
tables showing the final estimates and their effects on Basic Field-
Agricultural Worker grants (presuming for comparison constant total LSC 
funding for Basic Field Program grants during the relevant grant 
years). See www.lsc.gov/ag-worker-data (August 2016 Notice--Final 
Estimates, Tables I-VI). Descriptions of these tables are included 
below.

Table I

    Final National and State Estimates of the LSC-Eligible Agricultural 
Worker Population--Summary Table: This table provides summary 
information about the major data sources and calculations used to 
derive the updated estimates.

Table II

    LSC-Eligible Agricultural Worker Population by State: Comparison of 
Current (Fiscal Year 2016) Population Estimates and Final Estimates. 
The data in this table show the differences between the final estimates 
of the agricultural worker population and the population estimates on 
which Fiscal Year 2016 grant allocations were based.

Table III

    LSC-Eligible Agricultural Worker Population by State: Comparison of 
February 2016 Estimates and Final Estimates. The data in this table 
show the differences between the final estimates of the total LSC-
eligible agricultural worker population and the estimates published in 
February 2016.

Table IV

    Number of LSC-Eligible Agricultural Workers by State: Comparison of 
February 2016 and Final Estimates. The data in this table show the 
differences between the final estimates number of the number LSC-
eligible agricultural workers and the estimates published in February 
2016.

Table V

    Number of LSC-Eligible Agricultural Worker Dependents by State: 
Comparison of February 2016 and Final Estimates. The data in this table 
show the differences between the final estimates of the number of 
agricultural worker dependents and the estimates published in February 
2016.

Table VI

    Number of Unauthorized and Below-Poverty Farmworkers Eligible for 
LSC-Funded Services Pursuant to Anti-Abuse Provisions of 45 CFR 1626.4 
by State: Comparison of February 2016 and Final Estimates. The data in 
this table show the differences between the final estimates and the 
estimates published in February 2016 of the number of unauthorized and 
below-poverty farmworkers eligible for LSC-funded services pursuant to 
anti-abuse provisions of 45 CFR 1626.4.

    Dated: August 3, 2016
Mark Freedman,
Senior Associate General Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2016-18753 Filed 8-5-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 7050-01-P