Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Friday 01/31/14

Ag Groups React Favorably to House Immigration Principles

Immigration reform will once again take up a significant amount of debate outside the House chambers this year. House leaders released a set of principles on Thursday to pass legislation, but lawmakers also indicated there likely would not be a floor vote until after the primary season has ended. It's possible no real legislation could come until a lame-duck session after the fall general election as well.

The principles laid out Thursday highlight border security, visa tracking, fully implementing E-Verify, making it easier to bring in skilled workers and offering citizenship to children brought into the country illegally.

The principles call for legalizing up to 11 million people without indications for future citizenship. That sparked some concern from the United Farm Workers, which has pushed aggressively for a comprehensive bill that includes an eventual pathway to citizenship.

“We are glad to see that after a year of intense demonstrations, activities and reaching out to the House Republican leadership urging them to take action and fix our broken immigration system, they have begun to realize they can no longer ignore this very important issue," said Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America. "We are pleased to read that Republicans agreed that it is imperative that temporary workers do not displace or disadvantage American workers. This would be a departure from the current agricultural visa proposal in the House HR 1773 (Goodlatte), which includes fewer protections for current farm workers than even the infamous "bracero" program of the 1940s and 1950s.

"Now it’s time for them to translate these vague principles into a legislative proposal. Only then will we be able to judge whether House Republicans are serious about meeting our standards: an inclusive path to legal status upfront and an achievable path to citizenship over time. Barring immigrants from citizenship and creating a permanent underclass is inconsistent with who we are as Americans."

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said AFBF is encouraged by the House principles and called it a positive step in moving the process along. Stallman said a comprehensive agricultural labor plan is overdue.

“America’s farmers and ranchers depend on the workers who show up every day to tend crops and care for livestock. In short, our farmers and ranchers need long-term access to a steady and reliable supply of skilled agricultural workers," Stallman said. “We are encouraged by the leadership’s immigration reform principles, as they relate to labor and border security. We are hopeful they will provide the needed framework to move forward during the 113th Congress with a legislative solution for America’s agricultural labor shortage. We look forward to working with House members toward this goal.”

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Leadership released their draft immigration principles. With this release, the Republican leadership has raised the stakes on themselves to finally deliver on immigration reform. Our movement for a bipartisan solution has been building momentum and there is more work to be done.

GALEO, a Georgia-based immigration group for Latinos, also was encouraged and called the plans by the House leadership "a good faith effort.

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO, released this statement following the release of the GOP House Leadership Principles on Immigration:

"However, we do expect actual legislation to follow these 'Principles' soon," said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of GALEO. "Ensuring that we produce a viable path to earned legalization and maintain channels for citizenship for those already here are both essential elements to the process. Once legislation is produced with a clear timeline for action, GALEO is committed to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get immigration reform accomplished this year."

Western Growers, which represents Arizona and California fruit and vegetable farmers, applauded the House leadership for their statement as well.

“The standards leadership have drafted represent a commitment to reforming our immigration system in a manner that respects the rule of law while strengthening the ability for agriculture to remain competitive in the world market," said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. "We especially applaud the specific acknowledgement of agriculture’s unique needs and look forward to working towards crafting a long term solution.

"The commitment to dealing with our existing workforce in a humane and sensible manner, and making visa programs more market-based and workable are not only key priorities for our industry, they are consistent with Republican values. We appreciate the House leadership for their courage to lead on this critical issue. We look forward to working with all members of the House to move legislation forward that can finally fix our broken immigration system.”

Politico posted the one-page memo on immigration reform: http://images.politico.com/…

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 9:15AM CST 01/31/14 by Chris Clayton
Comments (1)
A lot of truth, TX. Ag is not the tip of the iceburg. Expand your comments to include the maids, gardeners, motel/hotel housekeepers and a multitude of other servants. I believe adopting and enforcing a workfare program would be the beginning of a solution to many serious issues in this nation. The opponents of this concept will cry, not a living wage. However most of us started at the bottom and are still a lot closer to the cellar than the top floor.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 5:24AM CST 02/03/14
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