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House Republicans Announce Standards for Immigration Reform

February 5, 2014

In a major step towards finding a political pathway to address the controversy surrounding immigration reform, the House Republican leadership issued last week a set of immigration reform standards. The reform standards include a provision for which NMPF has advocated strongly: the granting of legal status to undocumented workers in agriculture.

The standards call for the creation of a legalization program that does not include a special path to citizenship for agriculture workers, as is provided in the Senate legislation adopted last year. However, the standards do not bar these individuals from adjusting their status to “Lawful Permanent Resident” (i.e. a Green Card holder) through family or employment, once they have gained legal status under this program. The standards also call for enforcement and border security with verifiable triggers to be reached before any legalization can begin.

While the standards outlined by the House Republican leadership specifically cite the importance of ensuring agriculture’s access to a temporary workforce, the document does not address specific measures that would ensure that farmers could maintain the current workforce.

“It is imperative that any legislation provide incentives to help farm workers stay at the farm rather than leave the farm to pursue employment opportunities that may be available to them with their newly granted legal status,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF.

“NMPF views this announcement as an important step in the effort to improve and revamp our immigration system. Importantly, the standards released last week allow for the potential of achieving the primary goals of legalizing the undocumented in our current workforce and creating a future flow of agriculture workers,” Mulhern said.

In related news, NMPF, through the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), is working with the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition that brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reform as a way of creating jobs for Americans today. Through this joint effort, NMPF and the AWC will expand their outreach efforts on Capitol Hill and in the public to advance needed reforms in immigration with regards to agriculture.