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Immigration reform bill back on the Senate's radar

Agriculture.com Staff 05/12/2006 @ 9:38am

Senate leaders this week reached a deal to revive a comprehensive immigration reform bill that could conceivably be passed before Memorial Day.

The agreement between Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) comes after a stalemate that threatened to derail the immigration policy overhaul.

Key for agriculture is the AgJOBS section of the bill, which reportedly remains intact. That would allow immigrants working in agriculture an adjustment of status, and give them a path to legalization.

"This is tremendous news for the nation and American agriculture," said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, an agriculture trade association representing fruit, nut and vegetable growers, packers and shippers in California and Arizona. "We have been fighting for quite some time, along with many others, for badly needed immigration reform. It now appears we are on the verge of finally fixing our nation's broken immigration policy. This is the goal we have been striving for and, if passed, will be an historic moment. It not only would be the most important revision of immigration law in twenty years, it could be the most significant move to assist the agriculture industry in many decades."

The Senate will begin debating the bill early next week. If passed, the bill must then be reconciled with the House immigration reform bill in Conference Committee. House leadership plans to have its own version of a guest worker program for the reconciliation process.

Senate leaders this week reached a deal to revive a comprehensive immigration reform bill that could conceivably be passed before Memorial Day.

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