Senator: Passing Immigration Bill Will be a Herculean Task

Highlighting some of the challenges convincing Republicans to back the bill, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a call with reporters on Thursday. When asked by DTN about his view of Biden’s immigration bill, Grassley said he thinks the Biden plan “is so extreme, it goes even further that what we didn’t get 60 votes for 2013.” The idea of a comprehensive bill that would legalize 11 million people would not gain his support. “I think they would have a good chance of getting something done on DACA, even citizenship for DACA people, but legalizing 11 million people without security the borders — and there’s some evidence that they want less security on the border than what Obama had — that, I don’t think is going to go over very well.”

Beyond legislation for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Grassley said he thinks something could be done for agriculture as well, but the senator did not spell out specific details.

The bill, at least as proposed, does not address problems with the current H-2A guest-worker program. Agricultural groups want to make it easier to bring in guest workers and allow them to stay in the country longer. Agricultural groups also have tried to curb rules on H-2A wages as well.

Highlighting the demand for farm labor, even with complaints about the H-2A program, it continues to grow. In Fiscal Year 2020, which ended Sept. 30, 2002, agricultural employers received 275,430 guest workers, up about 6.4% from 2019 despite the pandemic. The top states for H-2A workers were Florida, Georgia, Washington, California and North Carolina, which accounted for just over half of all the H-2A jobs.

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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