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Senate passes immigration bill

By a vote of 68 to 32, the Senate approved an immigration reform bill Thursday.

Two of the nation's largest farm groups welcomed the legislation, which faces an uncertain future in the House.

"The Senate’s passage today of a balanced immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision is welcomed by America’s farmers and ranchers," said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman. "A comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of our nation is long overdue. We commend the Senate for addressing this very important issue, which will help ensure the continued success of agriculture in our nation."

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson also welcomed the passage of S. 744, the Border Security Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

"S. 744 includes important provisions that will bring greater stability to the farm workforce and provide a practical, legal means for immigrants to work in agriculture," Johnson said in a statement. "It also allows for peace of mind for all parties in agriculture to know that a more easy-to-use and effective system will be enacted."

Stallman mentioned the bill's increased resources for boosting patrols and barriers along America's borders, adding, "One of the best ways to improve border security is to create a legal, workable way for farm workers to enter our country. With less time and resources wasted locking up lettuce harvesters, the focus can shift to where it properly belongs – keeping those with criminal intentions out of our country."

Both groups offered to work with members of the House of Representatives on passing similar legislation.

"It is critical that both chambers pass legislation that can be reconciled in conference and signed into law," Stallman said.

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