News Date: 05/28/2008
The full Senate rejected two immigration/labor amendments dealing with agricultural workers by procedural motions on May 20. The AgJOBS and H-2B immigration proposals were originally included in an FY08 supplemental war spending bill by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 15.
Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho) offered one amendment to the supplemental spending bill that would have provided temporary limited immigration status for experienced farm workers who must continue to work in agriculture for five years. Their proposal is similar to the AgJOBS legislation which is supported by NASDA and a coalition of other agricultural groups. The Feinstein amendment was removed from the budget bill by a procedural motion offered by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
The Senate also removed another amendment that was included in the spending bill by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). Their proposal would extend the H-2B worker program for three years. The current program caps the number of H-2B visas that can be issued to 66,000 per year, and a statutory exemption for returning workers expired in September 2007.
In March 2008, NASDA sent letters to Congress and the administration urging action on agricultural jobs and the H-2B program. State agriculture leaders have urged Congress and the administration to quickly take action to ensure a viable and available workforce for production agriculture and agriculture-related industries. (Contact: Charlie Ingram)
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