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Congress opens ‘Window of opportunity’ for immigration reform

—By Kyle Cline
National Policy Advisor Public Policy Team

There is a window of opportunity in the U.S. House of Representatives to move immigration reform in 2014.

During a retreat in January, the House GOP Conference released its “Principles for Immigration Reform.” The GOP is also currently discussing how members will move forward immigration reform this year.

To educate and advocate for agricultural labor reform, Farm Bureau has partnered with Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE) in the #IFarmImmigration campaign.

PNAE brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and independent mayors and business leaders united in making the economic case for streamlining, modernizing, and rationalizing our immigration system. More can be found about PNAE here.

PNAE is sponsoring a broad campaign titled #IVoteImmigration and will be coordinating an effort that extends over multiple months. Agriculture will take center stage during the month of February.

The goal is to spotlight individual growers who have been forced to alter their business plans or had crop loss issues because of the inability to secure a legal and reliable workforce stemming from the broken H-2A program. Indiana Farm Bureau is currently searching for producers with direct experience with the H-2A program who have experienced these challenges and/or economic hardship and who would like to join the effort by telling their stories and advocating for reform.

Agricultural labor reform is necessary for the current and future viability of our farmers and rural communities as well as our nation’s collective food and economic security. Indiana Farm Bureau commends the House leadership for recognizing that farmers need long-term access to a legal and stable workforce. We are hopeful that this step in the right direction will lead to a formal framework that can finally address the challenges with the current broken H-2A program and the resulting labor shortage.

This is a critical moment and it is important to make sure that our members of Congress know that we strongly support efforts that are moving us towards achieving immigration reform this year. A recent statement by AFBF President Bob Stallman on the latest developments can be found at AFBF’s website, www.fb.org, by clicking on “Newsroom” and then “News Releases,” and then “Statement Regarding House Leadership Immigration Principles.”

Members with an interest in getting involved the #IvoteImmigration campaign and hosting an event or farm tour may contact me at (317) 692-7845 or kcline@infarmbureau.org.

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