A week or so ago I made a post about a new coalition that has formed to spearhead agricultural immigration reform. Since that time I’ve read several articles that made me feel even better about the possibility. Over the weekend, news slipped out that there had been a group of Senators that have been meeting to work on this issue. This week we find that it was indeed a bipartisan group and that some key leadership had been intentionally left out of the loop. Some say so that they wouldn’t be influenced by party infighting.
On Monday the group of 8 Senators led by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, presented the principles they have developed for the framework of a new Comprehensive Immigration reform.
The proposal has four basic pillars. 1. A path to citizenship for the undocumented workers already in the US. There are many parts to this including paying back taxes and penalties, additional background checks, learning English etc. This provision is contingent on the strengthening of the borders. 2. Immigration reform identifying those individuals that would add to the country’s economy. (not sure what that means yet) 3. Improved process for admitting future foreign workers. This is the part that will reform seasonal ag worker entry. 4. Improved verification system and employer enforcement provisions. This includes better documents to help stop identity theft.
There are a lot more details on this proposal in a PDF found here.
The President has already come out against many of these proposals. I am headed to DC to the National Council of Ag Employers meeting next week. It will be an interesting time as this process moves forward. Our goal will be to ensure that processors such as cotton gins will have access to the seasonal ag worker pool and that the process for getting workers is clear, straightforward and simple without being overly costly.