June 28, 2013 — On June 27, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744) on a 68 to 32 vote. The American Horse Council (AHC) supports this bill because it would fix many of the immigration issues facing the horse industry.
The bill as passed would substantially increase border security and implement an employment verification system. Most importantly for the horse industry, it would allow undocumented workers to legalize their status and replace the broken H-2A program with a new agricultural worker program administered by U.S. Department of Agriculture. It would also make improvements to the H-2B program and create a new W-visa low skilled program that would allow employers to hire foreign workers when no Americans can be found.
Comprehensive immigration reform has been a priority of the American Horse Council for many years. The difficulty horse farms, horse shows, trainers and others have had recruiting American workers has forced many to rely on foreign workers and utilize both the H-2B and H-2A temporary foreign worker programs to meet their labor needs. However, the current system is not reliable and is extremely burdensome to use. This bill would overhaul the U.S. immigration system and fix some of the immigration issues facing the horse industry and all of American agricultural.
It will now be up to the House of Representatives to take action on this bill or their own version of a comprehensive immigration bill.