Thursday, August 03, 2017

Immigration bill unlikely to pass; House chairman wants visas for undocumented farm workers

Sen. Tom Cotton, President Trump and Sen. David Perdue
unveiled the immigration plan. (AP photo by Evan Vucci)
President Trump and Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas proposed an immigration bill that would prioritize applicants who speak English, are younger, have more education and have job offers in place. The bill, a revised version of legislation introduced in February, would also "eliminate a program to allot visas to countries with low rates of immigration to the United States; cap the number of refugees granted permanent visas at 50,000 per year; and eliminate visa preference for family members of U.S. residents except for spouses and minor children," Alexis Simendinger and James Arkin report for Real Clear Politics.

Trump said that the legislation would raise wages for American citizens and reduce federal spending on government benefits for some unskilled immigrants. The president's campaign promises of immigration reform won big points with voters. His endorsement of this bill is important because it signals how he intends to deliver on those promises. However, "The legislation is unlikely to see the Senate floor, let alone become law," Simendinger and Arkin report. "It received mixed reviews from senators in both parties Wednesday, and is unlikely to gain much traction in the coming months."

If passed, the legislation “could have a distant effect on farm labor because it would halve the flow of legal immigrants,” reports. "House Judiciary [Committee] Chairman Bob Goodlatte expects to introduce soon a bill to create a new agricultural guest worker program, to be called H-2C, which also would be open to farmworkers now in the country illegally. It would allow guest workers to work at year-round jobs on farms and at food-processing plants for up to three years at a time. An estimated half to 70 percent of farmworkers are believed to be undocumented. Growers say the current H-2A visa system for seasonal workers is cumbersome and sometimes does not deliver enough workers in time for harvest."

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