Senate Judiciary Committee begins markup of immigration bill

By Derrick Cain

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WASHINGTON, May 9, 2013 - The Senate Judiciary Committee began today a markup of controversial immigration reform legislation (S. 744) that seeks to create a pathway for undocumented workers, including farm workers, to earn legal status.

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The mark-up, which was the first of an expected three sessions, focused mainly on amendments dealing with border security and general issues on amnesty for undocumented people.

The bill would create a new “blue card” program for experienced farm workers, and a new version of the current agricultural worker visa program.

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) and the United Farm Workers (UFW) today applauded Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., for holding the mark-up, noting that AWC and the United Farm Workers brokered the deal to advance the bill.

“The deal reached by the AWC and the UFW is a major step forward to finding a lasting solution to the issue of current and future agricultural labor in the United States,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Under the Senate proposal, undocumented farm workers would have the opportunity to obtain legal status by continuing to work in agriculture. The bill also includes critical labor protections for domestic and foreign workers.”

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