The Senate would be more comfortable voting for a comprehensive bill, though some Senators want legislation that addresses border enforcement only, Lake added.
However, a guest worker program isn’t feasible if Congress passes comprehensive reform, Lake said.
“We couldn’t immediately move into a guest worker program and have it function,” he said.
The border is not set up to install an electronic identification program or biometrically process workers’ documents, he said.
Agriculture needs more representation in Washington, many leaders said.
“It’s sad that in U.S. agriculture, we have four people in D.C. lobbying for it,” said Jasper Hempel, executive vice president of Western Growers. “There hasn’t been a time when we need to raise more on-point advocacy. We’ve got to do everything we can before March 15.”
Agriculture has some of the best stories to tell, and they can be told through letters to members of Congress, said Luawanna Hallstrom, chief operating officer of Oceanside-based Harry Singh & Sons.
“When leaders can speak to millions of people with information and stories, that is the best grass-roots effort,” she said. “Write those letters. We have two weeks to get our stories together and make sure legislative leaders understand (our problem), because in two weeks, this will be on the Senate floor.”