Thursday the Senate approved comprehensive immigration reform legislation by a vote of 62 to 36. The vote now sets up a difficult battle ahead to settle the vast differences that exist between the House and Senate version.
The Senate's bill tightens the borders to new immigrants, provides procedures for the 12 million foreigners already living in the country illegally to gain legal access and authorizes a guest worker program for temporary work in the country.
A statement from the American Farm Bureau Federation says the Senate bill "provides an excellent starting point for serious negotiations in a conference with the House." AFBF adds that the bill includes significant provisions supported by Farm Bureau and reflected in the policy approved by the organizations' delegates earlier this year.
"Farm Bureau supports tighter borders and tougher sanctions on those who knowingly hire illegal aliens. But such provisions must be coupled with a modern, workable H-2a program as well as a transition program that provides us farm labor while the new H-2a program is implemented," states AFBF President Bob Stallman.
An AFBF analysis finds U.S. agriculture runs the risk of losing between $5 billion and $9 billion per year in lost fruit and vegetable production. Net farm income could also be depressed by up to $5 billion per year.