Immigration reform challenges escalate

By Curt Kipp
Oregon Association of Nurseries

For quite some time, the nursery industry has been at the forefront of the push for comprehensive federal immigration reform. This means enforcing the law to secure U.S. borders, providing a dependable labor source for industries that need it, and setting up a path for undocumented people already in the country to earn sensible adjustment of status. It’s something that many people in the business, faith and labor communities support.

At the beginning of the year, it looked possible that such reform could forward move in 2010. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) promised to push forward with a bipartisan approach, and President Obama was on board. In the last month, however, the landscape has shifted. Not only has Arizona passed the controversial SB 1070, which made the federal civil matter of illegal immigration a criminal offense at the state level, but Sen. Graham has dropped his support for comprehensive reform.

Some observers have predicted that Arizona’s law would prompt Congress to take action at the federal law. But according to Tamar Jacoby of Immigration Works USA, that’s not likely to happen. She told a nationwide conference call this morning that while there’s a Democratic bill making the rounds (shepherded by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada), no Republicans are seriously considering support (without which the bill will go nowhere). Members of Congress are described as “anxious, not looking to take a controversial vote.” As a result, the national dialogue on the issue is likely to become more intense.

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