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Congress considers agricultural immigration reform, P. 2

A number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been considering a variety of proposals aimed at reforming business immigration laws in the agricultural industry. In the last post, this blog discussed several immigration reform ideas that have been circulating among lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives. Measures aimed at reforming non-immigrant visas for agricultural workers are also being considered in the Senate.

Some experts say that possible immigration reform, at least in the agricultural sector, is less likely in the Senate. Nonetheless, a number of Senators have been considering immigration reform measures.

One proposal that has gained some attention is the Harvest Act. The sponsor of the proposal says it is "the most comprehensive agriculture guest worker bill in the Senate." The Senate measure seeks to have the Agriculture Department administer the temporary non-immigrant visa program, much like the American Specialty Agriculture Act being considered in the House-a measure discussed in the last post.

The Senate version also would include workers in the dairy industry and places a 10-month limit on the temporary visas. The main difference between the Harvest Act in the Senate and the American Specialty Agriculture Act in the House has to do with the visa classification. The House version, as previously discussed, proposes to create a new visa-- the H-2C temporary visa. In the Senate version, the measure would seek to retain the H-2A visa and modify the rules in the H-2A visa program.

A second measure in the Senate that acts as a companion to a House proposal is known as the H-2A Improvement Act. That proposal, like its House counterpart, seeks to allow immigrant dairy workers to obtain a three-year visa under the existing H-2A classification. The H-2A Improvement Act in each chamber of Congress also would provide immigrant workers with a pathway to permanent status in the H-2A visa program.

In the heat of political debate, many experts on immigration issues say that the legal and political issues surrounding immigration reform remain complex. Politicians appear to be wary about immigration reform bills as many lawmakers are unsure about how voters will respond to the complex issues that are involved in immigration reform.

Certainly it is important for stakeholders who are concerned about business immigration issues in Florida to speak with an experienced Florida immigration lawyer, who can help people navigate through the complex current, and future, immigration laws that govern business immigration visas.

Source: Agri-View, "National immigration reform proposals hope to mend cracks in H-2A program," Jeffrey Hoffelt, Dec. 22, 2011

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