Senators formally debut immigration reform package
By Derrick Cain
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 - Eight bipartisan senators today formally unveiled their comprehensive immigration reform legislation that seeks to provide a pathway to legal status for about 11 million undocumented people, including millions of farm workers.
One of the “Group of Eight” senators, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said, during a large press conference, that a mark-up of the legislation could occur in mid-May, giving lawmakers three weeks to digest the 844-page Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, which aims to tighten border security while increasing available visas for foreign workers.
Schumer said senators held 24 meetings to hash out all the details of the bill and that “no one got everything they wanted.”
“If you could see how everyone came together, it would give you faith in our democracy,” Schumer said. “Our approach is balanced.”
For the agriculture sector, the bill would create a new “blue card” program for experienced farm workers, and a new version of the current agricultural worker visa program.
Another member of the group, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called the introduction of the bill “the end of the beginning.”
“We will have mark-ups and we will have amendments,” McCain said. “Some amendments will be in hope of improving the bill, some in hope of killing it.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings today and Monday on the legislation.
Other “Group of Eight” members include Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., John McCain, R-Ariz., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
Details of the proposed visa changes for farm workers can be viewed here.
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