On Monday, January 28, 2013, a bipartisan group of Senators released a set of principles for immigration reform. The group includes John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The principles outlined by the group address a recognition of agriculture’s unique workforce needs and the necessity of developing a new agriculture worker program. They include:
• Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S. that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
• Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American 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 workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, said, “We have worked for years with Senators McCain and Flake on a solution for the immigration crisis facing agriculture. We applaud them for developing these principles and look forward to working together with them along with Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Rubio to ensure the agriculture piece of this critical legislation addresses our industry’s concerns once and for all.”
United Fresh Produce Association also applauded the framework for comprehensive immigration reform put forward by the group of senators. The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), of which United is a founding member, has made an impact on the discussion as a broad, unifying agriculture coalition, said United.
“This bipartisan initiative addresses a top priority and longstanding challenge for fresh produce industry employers,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president & CEO. “We’re encouraged these senators have taken the lead and we look forward to further developing these principals into effective legislation.”
To read the full outline of principles, go to www.wga.com/sites/default/files/SenateImmigrationReformPrinciples.pdf.