Compared to immigration-related tweets and tirades in Washington, D.C., the fate of the stoic farm bill is considerably less entertaining. 

But it is a pivotal time for the farm bill in the House of Representatives. That body is expected to take up the farm bill again June 21 after failing to pass the bill in May. 

Conservative Republicans in the House demanded a vote on an immigration/border security bill this week before they take up the farm bill. The Rules Committee has allowed the farm bill to be reconsidered through June 22, so that deadline on the doorstep of lawmakers.

The outcomes to the expected House votes on immigration/border security, and after that, the farm bill, is up in the air, Kam Quarles of the National Potato Council told me June 20.

Yesterday, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Calif., introduced the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 6136).

 Goodlatte called it “consensus bill that is the product of negotiations between Republicans of all perspectives and addresses the four pillars for immigration reform outlined by President Donald Trump.”

According to a news release from the Republicans the key components of the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act are: 

  • Secures the Border: The bill provides nearly $25 billion in advance appropriations to build a wall along the Southern border. It also combats visa overstays by ensuring the biometric entry-exit program is completed so that we know whether or not those on temporary visas leave the U.S.
  • Contains More Tools to Prevent Illegal Immigration: The bill ends “catch and release,” increases the standard for credible fear to root out fraudulent claims, ensures unaccompanied alien children are returned safely and quickly to their home country, and provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the ability to detain dangerous criminal aliens, among other provisions.
  • Modernizes Our Immigration System: The bill ends the visa lottery, protects the nuclear family while reducing chain migration, reduces overall immigration numbers over the long term, and begins a shift to a merit-based system. It also shifts to a first-in-line visa system by eliminating the per-country cap on employment-based green cards and by increasing the cap on family-sponsored green cards from 7 to 15%.
  • Provides a Legislative Solution for DACA. The legislation allows the DACA population – children who came to the U.S. as minors and grew up here – an opportunity to earn a legal status. If these individuals meet certain requirements they will be eligible for a 6-year renewable legal status, allowing them to work here and travel abroad. The bill also requires the border wall to be funded before new visas are available under the new merit-based program.
  • Keeps Families Together: The legislation fixes a court decision, the Flores settlement, to ensure that children who are apprehended at the border with their parents are not separated from their parent or legal guardian while in DHS custody.

TK: One thing the immigration bill lacks is any discussion of farm labor issues or a reformed agricultural guest worker program. If anyone should be having any tirades and angry tweets, it should be American farmers. Their interests have largely been ignored as the Trump administration ramps up its election-year posturing on immigration and trade.