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June 10, 2013

Immigration Bill Ramps up in Washington

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

As the initial farm bill debate winds down in the Senate, S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, takes the spotlight. The immigration reform bill, which covers a gamut of topics, from border security to agricultural guest worker programs, is expected to be the topic of conversation in the Senate until the July 4 recess, according to American Farm Bureau Federation labor specialist Kristi Boswell. AFBF’s Miranda McDaniel reports.
McDaniel:With the farm bill wrapping up, the immigration bill is making its way to the floor in the Senate. The 900 page, comprehensive bill is expected to bring three weeks worth of debate before the July 4 recess.
Boswell:Things are really heating up in the Senate, S. 744, the comprehensive immigration bill, starts floor debate this week. There’s votes tomorrow on a vote to end debate on a motion to proceed and then the motion to proceed to full debate of the immigration bill. We expect three weeks at least of full debate, so it will be an interesting period with, we’re sure, lots of amendments.
McDaniel:There’s no indication of a set debate schedule for the bill says AFBF labor specialist Kristi Boswell, but there are two components within the bill’s agricultural provisions, one short term and one with long term results, that the agricultural industry is eagerly anticipating.
Boswell:One is the blue card program, which provides earned legalization for our experienced agricultural workers. We hope that this provision provides stability to the sector, at least in the short run. We also wanted to make sure we had a solution in the long run. That solution comes in the form of a new guest worker program. It will replace the current H-2A visa program with a program that’s much more flexible and more market based.
McDaniel:Boswell says the next few weeks are considered crunch time for the immigration bill debate in the Senate.
Boswell:Hopefully we will see a successful vote and the bill will pass out of the Senate. Then there’s still going to be discussions in the House and right now it is a little unclear how leadership will handle the immigration issue in the House. There seems to be the sentiment that the Senate bill will not be picked up directly, that the House will have their own bill.
McDaniel:Boswell adds House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has also been given this month to have his committee discuss immigration reform and mark up individual piece-by-piece bills including an agricultural guest worker program. Miranda McDaniel, Washington.
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