US: House takes first steps on immigration reform

Key lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are working to advance solutions to some of the most significant challenges floral industry professionals face in building a steady, reliable workforce.

The legislation, led by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Dan Newhouse (R-Washington), “isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s an important first step to what has long been an intractable issue,” said the Society of American Florists’ senior lobbyist, Joe Bischoff, Ph.D., of Cornerstone Government Affairs. “Many of the lawmakers at the table are people with whom SAF has long, positive relationships, which is very encouraging for the floral industry.”

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who have already been working in the agriculture industry for at least two years and plan to continue in their jobs, according to Politico. It would also establish a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for the agricultural sector, simplify the H-2A visa process, apply a cap to farm workers’ wages and increase funding for USDA housing programs for laborers.

The bill was introduced with the bipartisan support of 24 Democrats and 20 Republicans.

Read more at the Society of American Florists (Mary Westbrook)

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