Republicans to consider ‘legalization’ for immigrant workers
January 31, 2014
In a move that could be of great interest to agricultural employers and farmworkers, the House Republicans plan to consider a program to give current undocumented workers legal status but no special route to citizenship, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
In an interview with MSNBC's "Daily Rundown," Ryan said that the GOP principles announced today would allow current illegal residents to gain legal status, with a probationary period in which their record of living in the United States would be examined to determine whether they are working or getting welfare or have gotten into trouble with the law.
Once they achieve legal status, they could get in line for citizenship like other green card holders, Ryan said.
"The goal of any temporary worker program should be to address the economic needs of the country and to strengthen our national security by allowing for realistic, enforceable, usable, legal paths for entry into the United States," says the document, obtained by The New York Times and a number of other media outlets.
"Of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry, among others. It is imperative that these temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers."
Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif in a news release applauded House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. and Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. for the development of what the GOP is calling "Immigration Reform Standards."
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Nassif, who represented the growers in negotiations with the United Farm Workers that led to the farm worker section of the immigration bill that passed the Senate, also applauded "the specific acknowledgement of agriculture's unique needs and look forward to working towards crafting a long-term solution."
"The commitment to dealing with our existing workforce in a humane and sensible manner, and making visa programs more market-based and workable are not only key priorities for our industry, they are consistent with Republican values," Nassif said.
Nassif is a former Republican ambassador and political appointee. Members of Western Growers grow half the fruits and vegetables produced in the country.
More liberal immigration advocates have opposed any measure that does not provide a clear path to citizenship.
The United Farm Workers also said it was glad that after a year of demonstrations the House Republican leadership had come realize it can no longer ignore the immigration issue.
"This would be a departure from the current agricultural visa proposal in H.R .1773 (Goodlatte), which includes fewer protections for current farm workers than even the infamous 'bracero' program of the 1940s and 1950s,"said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez.
But Rodriguez added that only a legislative proposal would allow the union "to judge whether House Republicans are serious about meeting our standards: an inclusive path to legal status upfront and an achievable path to citizenship over time. Barring immigrants from citizenship and creating a permanent underclass is inconsistent with who we are as Americans."
Frank Sharry of America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group, said, "Now it's time for them to translate these vague principles into a legislative proposal," he said. "Only then will we be able to judge whether House Republicans are serious about meeting our standards: an inclusive path to legal status upfront and an achievable path to citizenship over time."
"Barring immigrants from citizenship and creating a permanent underclass is inconsistent with who we are as Americans," Sharry said. "In addition, we'll know House Republicans are serious if they commit to negotiations with the Democrats in the House and with the Senate champions of immigration reform." F
–The Hagstrom Report