WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2016 - Donald Trump cleared up some questions about his immigration policy - and raised a few more - during a widely anticipated speech in Arizona that followed a whirlwind trip to meet with the president of Mexico.

Speaking at a rally last night in Phoenix, Trump said his enforcement priorities focus on illegal immigrants who had committed crimes, been arrested or had recently come into the country. Illegal immigrants who were somehow relying on public assistance also would be sent home, he said. 

He ruled out offering any immediate legal status or “amnesty” to undocumented people. He said they would have to leave the country first and then apply to return to the United States legally. But moments later Trump seemed to leave the door open to offering undocumented workers some type of legal status at some point in the future - after illegal immigration is a “memory of the past.”

Trump also called for sunsetting all visa laws so that Congress had to periodically revise them. He didn’t go into specifics about how the laws should be changed, but his proposal could presumably force Congress to debate changes to the H-2A program for agricultural workers. Trump said that existing visa programs are “archaic.”

Trump eases on NAFTA, Pena Nieto open to ‘enhancing.’ The harsh tone of the speech contrasted sharply with  Trump’s joint news conference yesterday afternoon with the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. 

Pena Nieto opened the door to revising the North American Free Trade Agreement. He defended the 22-year-old trade deal but he said that doesn’t mean it “can’t be enhanced for the benefit of both sides.” He said Mexico is willing to “find ways to modernize NAFTA so it can be more effective in creating more good-paying jobs.” 

Trump, who once called for killing NAFTA, called for improving the agreement and said the goal would be keeping jobs “in our hemisphere,” in other words, both the United States and Mexico. Trump also emphasized that it was in the best interest of the United States to make sure that Mexico as well as Central America are prosperous.

Trump’s message in Mexico became muddled within hours when Pena Nieto seemed to contradict Trump on whether they discussed the border wall. Trump said they didn’t discuss it. Pena Nieto said he told Trump Mexico wouldn’t pay for it. 

Clinton backer: Farmers need immigration reform. Pam Johnson, a former president of the National Corn Growers Association who backs Hillary Clinton, says agriculture would benefit broadly from comprehensive immigration legislation. 

She said in an interview on the sidelines of the Farm Progress Show that meatpackers and the growing dairy industry in her home state of Iowa need a reliable source of labor. “It’s very important to us to have someone who will sit down  and not talk about building walls but will talk about how we can work together to help small business (and) agriculture,” Johnson said. 

A comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 would have expanded agricultural access to foreign workers while providing a path to citizenship for immigrants who are now in the country illegally.

Stopgap funding on House September agenda. The House agenda for September calls for passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. There’s no mention in the agenda, released yesterday, of moving any of the fiscal 2017 appropriations bills that have yet to reach the floor. 

House Republican leaders would like to pass a government-wide, omnibus spending bill in December, but some conservatives want to delay any agreement on FY17 spending until the new president and Congress take office. 

The House agenda also includes a few bills meant to showcase the GOP’s anti-regulatory agenda. Once such bill, the Regulatory Integrity Act, would require agencies to post information about proposed regulations on their websites.

Grower unable to block farmworker suit. A class action lawsuit against a large Washington state fruit and vegetable grower is moving forward after a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel affirmed a lower court opinion allowing 600 Yakima Valley farmworkers to sue the Mercer Canyons operation as a class.

The workers claim Mercer didn’t tell them about H-2A jobs that were available for $12 an hour, preventing them from seeking employment at that pay rate. The appeals court said the workers had a reasonable claim. A trial in the case will be scheduled later. 

USDA grasshopper control getting second look. USDA is taking a new look at the environmental impact of its program for fighting infestations of grasshoppers and mormon crickets. A spokeswoman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says the agency will look at new data and control measures that have developed since the last environmental impact study was completed in 2002. 

The study will look at reducing insecticide application rates as well as ending the program entirely. 

He said it. “I shared my strong view that NAFTA has been a far greater benefit to Mexico than it has been to the United States and that it must be improved upon to make sure that workers, and so important, in both countries benefit from fair and reciprocal trade.” - Donald Trump, summarizing his message to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on NAFTA

Spencer Chase and Steve Davies contributed to this report. 


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