Monday, April 22, 2013 by Lee Mannering
Last week, the U.S. Senate introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744. This bill addresses key issues of importance to the produce industry, including allowing farm workers currently in the country illegally to earn legal U.S. residency by fulfilling a future work requirement in agriculture, among other conditions, and creating a new guest worker program specifically for the agriculture sector.
In a press statement, PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann said: “After more than a decade of work by our industry, we welcome immigration reform legislation from the U.S. Senate’s ‘gang of eight.’ Thanks to the efforts of Senators Feinstein, Rubio, Hatch, and Bennet, and the round-the-clock work of industry leaders including Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, Chuck Conner, president & CEO of National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and PMA board member Mike Stuart, president of Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, the Senate legislation addresses the critical workforce needs of American agriculture, now and into the future.
“That said, we aren’t quite ready to declare the work is done. On behalf of our members, PMA will continue to work through the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, of which we are an executive committee member, and the Agricultural Workforce Coalition.”
The bill’s introduction has generated significant media coverage, including this Wall Street Journal article.
We will be providing more details about S. 744 to our members soon, including how to use our online advocacy system – which takes less than three minutes to send a letter to Congressional leaders on this important farm labor issue.