The passing of immigration reform in the U.S. Senate in late June is far from the finish line for agriculture.
The June 27 vote of 68-32 broke down such that only 14 Republican Senators split from the 32 voting against, with all 52 Democrats and two Independents voting aye.
That means it wasn’t a bipartisan passing. House Speaker John Boehner said just before the Senate vote that the House will not even consider the Senate bill should it pass.
It’s also worth noting that the Senate passed an immigration bill in 2006, while the House passed a different version that the two bodies could not reconcile, so it died.
Where does that leave the produce industry?
There are labor provisions in the Senate plan that could find an audience in the House in a piecemeal approach, since the Senate’s comprehensive plan seems highly unlikely to pass the House.
Any hint of amnesty for illegal immigrants is going to be a turnoff to many Republicans in this Congress, both in the House and Senate, so lobbyists will have to push for guest worker provisions without a path to citizenship and get those Democrats already on board to concede that issue.
If the House can pass any immigration reform legislation, a conference committee can hammer out details, which may be the best agriculture interests can hope for this year.
Meanwhile, the produce industry has wisely begun looking for — and implementing — some labor solutions that don’t involve politicians.
Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.