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Amnesty alert: Tracking the Feinstein/Craig illegal alien farmworker amendment

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 19, 2008 11:23 AM

Just keeping you up to date on the latest illegal alien amnesty push. As I noted last week, the Feinstein/Craig illegal alien farmworker amendment was tacked onto the Iraq war supplemental bill and will be up for a vote this week–likely Wednesday (see here and here for background).

Stalwart immigration enforcement supporter and staunch shamnesty-killer Sen. Jeff Sessions is on the case. Via the Birmingham News:

“There were no hearings on it and nobody had any idea that this was about to happen,” Sessions said from his Capitol Hill office.

His staff had a late night analyzing the 101-page provision that would allow certain agricultural workers to stay in the country legally, and when Sessions came to work the next day, he was back in fiery form as lead critic of any new program that doesn’t cut down on the number of border crossers…

… At issue was an amendment giving temporary legal status to those who can prove they’ve been working on U.S. farms in the past two years, pay a fine, and continue to work at least 100 days a year over the next five years.

“This amendment provides a consistent, stable workforce for an industry that depends almost exclusively on undocumented labor – agriculture,” said sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. She and fellow sponsor, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, called it an emergency measure to keep planters, pickers, pruners and packers on the job. The number receiving the special status would be capped at 1.35 million, according to Craig’s office.

Although similar to a plan that was in the failed immigration reform legislation last year, it had one key difference – a five-year expiration date. In response, the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed by a 17-12 vote to add it to the war funding bill.

The expiration date did not assuage Sessions. He figures the 1.35 million workers who gain the temporary legal status would be joined by about 1.62 million of their relatives.

“What do you think will happen at the end of five years? Is anybody going to ask them to go back home?” Sessions asked.

… “That’s a special-interest policy, not the national policy. These big agribusinesses are not entitled to set immigration policy for America just to meet their interests.”

Feinstein has tried to pass the legislation, known widely as Ag Jobs, for more than a year. Critics have called it amnesty; advocates say it’s key to the American farm economy.

Sessions on Friday resumed his role of whipping up public opposition.

“I do think it’s important that those of us who care about it let the people know what is happening,” he said. “I think it’s possible this could be blocked and not become law, but I think it’s possible if nobody complains, that they could force it through.”

NumbersUSA reminds you to keep up the pressure on Washington:

The full Senate may begin work on the bill on Tuesday, May 20, so please contact your Senators now to urge them to work to strip the amnesty from the Iraq spending bill on the floor, as well as the other amendments increasing immigration levels.

Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121

The most important point to stress is that there is no need for an amnesty to provide growers with workers. There already is an H-2A foreign ag worker program that provides growers with an unlimited number of temporary workers if the growers agree to pay a decent wage and ensure that they go home at the end of the season. Feinstein is just trying to protect the abysmally low wages and bad working conditions that farmworkers labor under.

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