Though some House Republicans still seem hesitant to embrace a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S., Congress opened the door on immigration reform efforts with a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee.
With rumors of comprehensive immigration legislation being worked on by bipartisan groups in the House and Senate, Washington sources said there appears to be momentum for reform.
Kristi Boswell, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C., said a Feb. 5 hearing helped educate members on immigration issues.
While the Senate’s desire for immigration reform may be stronger than the House, Boswell said that House has energy for the issue as well.
Boswell said it is unclear how the majority Republicans intend to approach the issue.
“Personally, I think piece by piece is more likely the approach in the House, giving the chance for members to look at each individual issue separately, but I don’t think there is a set path determined at this point,” she said Feb. 7.
Whatever their approach, Boswell said the House won’t be able to tackle enforcement without a solution for agriculture, she said.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. and chairman of the committee, said in his opening statement that U.S. laws put unnecessary hurdles before U.S. farmers.
“Our agriculture guest worker program is simply unworkable and needs to be reformed,” he said in his statement.
Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and ranking Democrat on the committee, voiced support for comprehensive immigration reform in his opening statement. He said any legislation should give the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. an opportunity to pursue a pathway to citizenship.