Ag Immigration Bill Will Not Receive House Vote

The Ag and Legal Workforce Act (HR 6417) will not be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives before its August recess, which begins Friday and lasts until after Labor Day.

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) said this week  that supporters were urging House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, to bring to the measure to the floor for a vote prior to the recess.  The Green Bay-based ADC is a farmer-led lobbying organization.

“As interior enforcement efforts continue, those who are left without any means to secure a legal workforce are facing disaster. It is now up to Speaker Ryan to decide if the U.S. will end up importing food and putting thousands of domestic jobs at risk or securing a legal workforce we desperately need,” the dairy group said.

The AG Act includes the H-2C guest worker program, which would allow foreign-born workers to remain in the United States for up to 36 months on a renewable visa, though they would be required to return to their home countries to meet “touch back” requirements during that period. The H-2C visa would give legal documentation status both to existing workers already here and establish quotas for new workers.  It would also impose mandatory E-verify, an electronic verification of employment eligibility.

Leadership in the House had promised to bring the measure sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA , and co-sponsored by six Republicans and two Democrats to the floor this month. Capitol Hill observers say leadership delayed the vote out of concern of having enough votes and didn’t want a third immigration-related measure to fail within two months. It was said that House leaders were also under pressure from non-agricultural groups opposed to E-verify

The American Farm Bureau, the National Milk Producer Federation and the National Pork Producers Council, in addition to many other national and state associations, support the bill.

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