Immigration reform wins support of bipartisan group

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Signaling the best hope for congressional action in years, a new framework toward immigration reform has won the support of a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators.

Agriculture received focus in the framework agreement, said Craig Regelbrugge, vice president of government relations and research for the American Nursery & Landscape Association, Washington, D.C.

Republican senators backing the plan include John McCain of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Democratic senators supporting the package include  Chuck Schumer of New York, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

“In the principles that the eight senators have released, agriculture is very much acknowledged,” Regelbrugge said.

In particular, the plan gives current farmworkers the ability to continue to perform the work they are now doing.

The plan also calls a workable guest worker program.

 “They wisely recognized that agriculture has some unique needs that need to be dealt with in a sensible way,” Regelbrugge said.

Regelbrugge said the Senate is expected to act first in taking up immigration reform this year.

The principles of the Senate plan include four key pillars, according to a document released by the senators. Those are to:

• Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;

•  Reform the immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the economy and strengthen families;

•  Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,

• Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s work force needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

The new rules would allow employers to hire immigrants if it can be shown that they were unsuccessful in recruiting U.S. citizens to fill an open position and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace U.S. workers.

In particular, the document said that reform legislation should create a workable program to meet the needs of America’s agricultural industry, including dairy, to find agricultural workers when American workers are not available to fill open positions. The plan also would allow more lower-skilled immigrants to come here when the U.S. economy is creating jobs, and fewer when our economy is not creating job.

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Loren Lopes    
California  |  January, 29, 2013 at 08:23 AM

The government is starting to realize the homeless are not coming to work any time soon. The young US citizens are geared to go to college and have not been taught basic vocational job skills. So imigration reform is on the front burner to maintain a reliable cheap work force here in the US. This will cause resistance from the boader crossing industry.

N W Indiana  |  January, 29, 2013 at 10:48 AM

As a resident 1962-99, I experienced the third world conquest of Chicago by the third world. The once proud, world class manufacturing City of Chicago is now in large part, a third world slum. The third world has now followed me to my rural place. Worse yet these (illegal) aliens are embraced by neighboring farmers and their children. Livestockmen do know of the importance of genetics, don't they? The unemployed and welfare "problem" is one of prosperity. This problem can easily be solved by fixing all unpaid benefits to 50% of minimum wage. The desire for a better life will move many recipients to the workplace. We will return to a people with a work ethic in a generation. Or so.

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