President Biden to Send Congress Immigration Reform Bill; Industry Members Comment
UNITED STATES - On January 20, President Biden was sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States. One of his first orders of business is to send an immigration reform bill to Congress, one that proposes key overhauls to certain aspects of the system, including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and other groups.
Eager to hear what leaders of the industry had to say in regards to this legislation, we reached out to several associations, including Western Growers, whose President and CEO Dave Puglia provided us with a quote.
“President Biden’s decision to send Congress an immigration reform bill on his first day in office sends a clear statement about his commitment to resolving one of the most pressing issues facing the agriculture industry,” Puglia explained. “We are encouraged by the President’s focus on modernizing the immigration system, and are confident we can work within his framework to fully address the agricultural labor crisis. As we did on a bipartisan basis in 2013 and 2019, we will collaborate with our Congressional champions to ensure that the two key needs of American farmers are met in any legislative package that arrives on the President’s desk—an earned pathway to legalization for our existing, experienced workers and a streamlined temporary nonimmigrant program that provides a reliable future flow of guest workers.”
Tom Stenzel, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Fresh Produce Association, also issued a statement regarding Biden’s immigration reform bill.
“We congratulate President Biden and Vice President Harris on their swearing in today. Given the many challenges facing our country, we are grateful that the President immediately moved to address the need for immigration reform, sending a new legislative proposal to Congress,” Stenzel stated. “We strongly support President Biden’s proposal to create a pathway to legal status for America’s immigrant population, including some one million farmworkers critical to feeding the nation. We also call on the President and Congress to include a future agricultural guest worker program which will be required to secure an adequate workforce to harvest, pack, and ship our products. The bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed by the House of Representatives in the last Congress charts a clear path forward to a long-term, bipartisan solution to these challenges. We stand ready to work with the Biden Administration and the Congress to move this legislation forward.”
Ian LeMay of the California Fresh Fruit Association, also spoke with ANUK regarding this bill.
“We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to finally get comprehensive immigration reform passed into law," commented the CFFA President. "We’ve long felt that it is important to give those who work in our industry and live in our communities a status that will give them confidence. While we know from history that this will not be an easy thing to accomplish, we think we have a good partner in President Biden to make an honest attempt to finally achieve this."
The bill itself, titled the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, has an impressive list of goals attached to it. These include a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants and additional funding for technology along the border. It also aims to address the root causes of migration in Central America, where migrants have fled by the thousands to the U.S.
According to a report from The Hill, if passed, the legislation would create an immediate pathway to green cards for certain individuals, including beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, known as Dreamers. Those individuals could then apply for citizenship three years after getting a green card.
An incoming White House official detailed the package in the following way: “The American public know their immigration is not working the way it should be, and we need a complete overhaul that both protects the American people but is also consistent with our values, and that’s what the President-Elect intends to do with this legislation.”
AndNowUKnow will continue to report on the new administration’s attention to immigration and how this will effect the produce industry, so stay tuned.