WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2013 – A comprehensive immigration reform package containing a new agricultural worker program should emerge from the Senate in “late spring or summer” and give the House time to approve a bill before the end of the year, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said today.

Speaking with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Schumer told reporters at a press conference that the bill will proceed through “regular order” rather than just showing up on the Senate floor.

“This means a mark-up in [Chairman Patrick Leahy’s Senate Judiciary Committee],” Schumer said. “I imagine that will take several weeks. There are many different views on that committee, and we’ll get lots of amendments.”

A group of eight bipartisan senators, including Schumer and Durbin, released Jan. 29 a proposed framework for immigration reform that aims to create a pathway to citizenship for all illegal aliens in exchange for increased border security and other provisions.

While light on details, the proposal recommends making it easier for undocumented farm workers to be legally employed.

The framework also proposes to provide businesses with the ability to hire lower-skilled workers, such as seasonal workers, in a timely manner when U.S. workers are not available to fill the jobs.

The proposal seeks to “create a workable program to meet the needs of America’s agricultural industry, including dairy, to find agricultural workers when American workers are not available.”

Another provision that could affect producers and farmers is a plan to require the use of an employment verification system, such as E-Verify.


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