Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Immigration bill treats farm workers most favorably

The "Gang of Eight" senators (AP via Politico)
The "Gang of Eight," the octet of senators working on the new immigration bill, are expected to introduce it today. It could pave the way for 11 million illegal immigrants to begin the process of becoming legal citizens, based on skills and personal assets, Julia Preston reports for The New York Times.

"The legislation would have a far-reaching impact on virtually every corner of the American economy," Carrie Budoff Brown, Anna Palmer and Manu Raju of Politico report. Agriculture could be the corner most affected. The bill would expand guest-worker programs for farm workers, 50 to 80 percent of whom are estimated to have arrived in the country illegally. They would be able to get green cards as legal residents after five years; most other workers would have to wait 10.

The bill would require employers to verify the legal status of all new hires using a photo matching system within five years, and the federal government to create an electronic system within 10 years for checking foreigners as they leave the country through airports and seaports, Preston notes.
Even if the bill passes the Senate, as seems likely, its prospects in the Republican-controlled House are uncertain. We have reported on this issue several times, most recently about the merit system based on job skills and assets, and here about how agriculture could benefit most.

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