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Immigration Reform Returns to Center Stage as Congress Returns from Recess

January 10, 2014

Immigration reform also will be in the spotlight as Congress returns for the second session of the 113th Congress. After numerous bills, including an agriculture-specific bill, stalled in the House at the end of 2013, prospects for action in 2014 received a strong boost when House Speaker John Boehner began signaling supporters of immigration reform that he would push for action on legislation this year. While the timing of that process remains unclear, the signals sent by Speaker Boehner are a marked improvement from even a few months ago.

Unlike the Senate, which passed a comprehensive reform measure, the House will pursue a piecemeal approach centered on a series of bills passed last year by the House Judiciary Committee. One of those measures, the Agriculture Guestworker Act (H. R. 1773), was created specifically to deal with the challenges of using immigrant labor in the agricultural sector. While this legislation includes important reforms that would benefit agriculture – and specifically dairy farms – improvements will be needed to ensure that this measure fully addresses the number one concern for the dairy industry: maintaining farmers’ current workforce.

NMPF has been deeply engaged in efforts to revise our nation’s immigration system through its work with the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), a coalition of more than 70 agriculture organizations dedicated to reforming our nation’s immigration laws for the benefit of producers and growers. NMPF will continue to work with the AWC and members of Congress to ensure that any legislation that is passed by the House fully addresses the needs of dairy farmers.