On Sept. 21, the House Judiciary Committee approved Chairman Lamar Smith’s H.R.2885, the Legal Workforce Act, after three days of contentious debate, said Craig Regelbrugge, vice president of government relations at ANLA.
The Committee failed to address the question of how to prevent the expected devastation in the agricultural sector if E-Verify displaces the roughly 1 to 1.2 million experienced farm, nursery and greenhouse workers who lack proper work authorization, he said. Yet, agriculture was at the very center of the debate throughout the Committee process.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) offered his own Legal Agricultural Workforce Act, H.R. 2995, as an amendment to the Smith E-Verify bill, but it was ruled non-germane, according to Regelbrugge.
"Many agricultural groups, including the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR), which ANLA co-chairs, voiced their strong support for Lungren’s effort," he said. "The Lungren bill would establish a more market-oriented and flexible agricultural worker program. After being denied consideration, Lungren and other Members of the Committee, both Democrats and Republicans, sounded the alarm that without better legal workforce options, agriculture would be irreparably harmed."