Congress Considers Immigration Legislation

December 9, 2005 - 08:35

The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) reports that House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced his long-rumored enforcement-only bill on December 6, 2005. Among other things, it mandates electronic verification of a prospective employee’s eligibility and makes verification retroactive to the entire currently-employed workforce, reports ANLA. “It does nothing to provide access to or assurance of a legal workforce. If this bill were to be enacted in its current form, it would devastate the green industry, agriculture and various service sectors,” said ANLA.

The Judiciary Committee considered the bill on December 8, 2005. It will likely be on the House floor for a vote the week of December 12, 2005. Passage is expected. The Senate would then take up the issue next year. Senate consideration of more suitable provisions has become the industry’s major objectives at this point. Following completion of the Senate’s version of the bill, a House/Senate conference would then iron out the differences.

In anticipation of this House introduction and future Senate action, ANLA is fully engaging the industry association grassroots network known as the Lighthouse Program, as well as its DC-based lobbying efforts. ANLA has conducted Congressional staff briefings and coordinated dozens of lobbying visits to sound the alarm about what such an enforcement-only bill would mean for the industry.

“To avoid crippling the industry, any legislation that ultimately clears Congress must be comprehensive in approach. It must include provisions that provide sustainable access to a legal workforce and not just focus on enforcement of broken immigration and guest worker laws,” stated ANLA’s senior director of government relations, Craig Regelbrugge. “Although it appears that the House of Representatives will pass this legislation by the end of next week, it remains critical for the industry to contact their representatives in both the House and Senate and warn them of the devastating impact an enforcement-only approach would have for environmental horticulture, agriculture and many service industries.”

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