Before Congress began its spring recess, there were several developments on immigration reform. In addition to the bipartisan STRIVE Act, there was action from other House members and the administration.
Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), now Ranking Republication on the House Agriculture Committee, introduced H.R. 1792, which only addresses H-2A, the visa program for employers to admit agriculture labor. While the Goodlatte bill has some appealing provisions, a partisan bill will not pass and ultimately will not improve the situation, according to the Society of American Florists (SAF).
The president, through Secretary of Commerce Calros Gutierrez, announced some progress on specific principles that should be part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which is still the administration’s goal for this year. In an effort to broaden the base of support for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), along with Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), are negotiating the details of a proposal that could win majority support. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) still wants to debate immigration policy in May.
On the surface, the administration’s outline may appear to fall short of supporting AgJOBS. The agriculture community, however, is treating this as a work in progress and will work with other stakeholders to promote a workable solution.
SAF and others in the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR) continue to strongly support AgJOBS and cite the importance of agriculture and its challenges during lobbying visits. Efforts to gain cosponsors for AgJOBS in the Senate and the House continue. Supporters are encouraged to E-mail or call their members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor the AgJOBS bill.
To learn more, visit www.safnow.org .