Today, during its annual retreat, House Republicans released their immigration reform standards. The standards have been anxiously anticipated by immigration reform supporters and provide the framework the GOP will use to guide the party through the forthcoming immigration debate.
In the document that the NY Times released, the standards specifically reference the Ag industry, saying, “The goal of any temporary worker program should be to address the economic needs of the country and to strengthen our national security by allowing for realistic, enforceable, usable, legal paths for entry into the United States. Of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry, among others. It is imperative that these temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers.”
Although a pathway to citizenship is not part of the standards, a pathway to legalization is, providing that workers first meet very specific requirements.
Western Growers president and CEO Tom Nassif released the following statement about the GOP’s standards:
“I applaud Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Whip Kevin McCarthy for their efforts to move immigration forward in the House. The standards drafted by the leadership represent a commitment to reforming our immigration system in a manner that respects the rule of law while strengthening the ability of agriculture to remain competitive in the world market. 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.”
The Agriculture Workforce Committee, of which Western Growers is a member, also released a statement saying:
“The Agriculture Workforce Coalition applauds the efforts of the House Republican Conference to release a set of reform principles during its policy retreat in Cambridge, Md. As GOP representatives engage in this process, the AWC asks that any immigration reforms ensure that farmers, ranchers and growers have access to a workforce, both in the short- and long-term. It is also vital that any reforms work for all types of agriculture, including those with both seasonal and year-round labor needs. This requires a legislative solution that deals with the current unauthorized but experienced agricultural workforce and meets future needs through a new visa program that will admit a sufficient number of willing and able workers in a timely manner.
“Further, we strongly encourage the House of Representatives to consider immigration reform legislation in an expedited manner. The crisis in agriculture is here today and we are the first to suffer irreparable damage.
“The Coalition looks forward to public release of the principles and working with the House as the legislative process moves forward.”
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