Calling proposed immigration reform legislation “devastating” to Western Growers members, association president and CEO Tom Nassif alerted members that the group will work to stop it from becoming law.
The immigration reform package, the Secure America’s Future Act, was authored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. House leaders passed a continuing resolution on Jan. 18 that will fund the government for another four weeks. Facing a midnight deadline Jan. 19, the Senate had still not passed any bill to keep the government operating.
According to Nassif, the House passage of the continuing resolution included a commitment to vote on Goodlatte’s bill by the end of February.
According to Nassif, the Goodlatte bill would provide a minimal fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for partially funding the border wall, mandatory E-Verify, and replacing the H-2A program with a revamped H-2C program, among other provisions.
“The proposed H-2C program would be devastating to our membership as it fails to provide adequate assurances for our current and future workforce needs,” Nassif said in the e-mail. “Under the Goodlatte bill, all current unauthorized farmworkers would be required to become guest workers under the H-2C program, which mandates they return to their home country before participating in the guest worker program.”
Nassif said the bill also leaves their non-U.S. spouses and children deportable. The Goodlatte bill also places an arbitrary cap on the H-2C program at 410,000 visas per year for ag workers, with no emergency measure in the event labor demands exceed the cap.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has told media outlets he will only bring the Goodlatte bill up for a vote if they can get the support of 218 Republicans, Nassif said.
“In the coming days and weeks, Western Growers will work with the greatest urgency to prevent the Goodlatte bill from coming to the House floor while we also pursue a workable solution in Congress.”
Michael Marsh, president and CEO of the National Council of Agricultural Employers, said in an e-mail that the group was studying the Goodlatte bill. As of Jan. 19, Marsh said it “appears unlikely” that the House-passed continuing resolution will move through the Senate.