Immigration Legislation Update

28 Apr 2014, Posted by admin in executive director

As of April 28, 2014, the status and future direction of the immigration reform bill in Congress rests solely in the hands of House Speaker John Boehner. The current insider speculation is that he will not attempt to move this high-profile, controversial legislation before the November elections. However, the agricultural industry component of the overall bill has a strong consensus supporting it including that of ag worker groups. So, whenever Speaker Boehner and his leadership cohort decide to move the bill, the ag section (one of 5-6 major sections) is ready to go.

BACKGROUND: following President Obama’s reelection in 2012, the Democrat-led Senate hammered out a “comprehensive” immigration reform bill. The term comprehensive means that the bill combines all the major elements (e.g. border enforcement, skilled workers, pathway to citizenship, ag guest workers, etc.) into one bill. That bill passed the Senate by a comfortable margin in a bipartisan vote in June, 2013.

The Republican-led House accepted the Senate bill with indifference, in fact distancing itself from it as an overall bill. Pieces of the immigration topic have had some hearings and committee approval in the House, but the entire House has not seen anything on immigration posted during the current two-year term.

Some encouragement for the issue emerged in late January when the Republican caucus issued a Statement of Principles regarding immigration. Some people interpreted that to be a vague yet important statement and blueprint of how the bill might be brought to the floor. However, that was later set aside by a statement that effectively said the leadership would “play it safe” until the November elections and avoid any controversial bills for the Republican majority. Immigration is an example of such a bill. There is some speculation that there is sufficient support in the House to pass an immigration bill, absent the political/November elections obstruction.

A concerted effort is now underway among major pro-immigration legislation interest groups (including Farm Bureau) this spring to push House members into the consideration of final legislative action.

Most of New Jersey’s House delegation, both Republican and Democrat, are in favor of passing an immigration reform bill.