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Chamber Applauds Bipartisan Agricultural Workers Bill

Monday, September 22, 2003 - 8:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce applauded the introduction of the "Agricultural Job Opportunity Benefits and Security Act" as an important first step in immigration reform.

"This legislation represents an historic agreement between business and labor on an important issue for the future of our country – reform of immigration rules to address our current and future workforce needs," said Bruce Josten, the Chamber's executive vice president for Government Affairs. "The excellent work of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to achieve this result should be commended."

The legislation, worked out over years of negotiations between agricultural employers, farm worker unions and immigrant rights groups – and led by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, including Senators Larry Craig (R/ID) and Edward Kennedy (D/MA) and Representatives Chris Cannon (R–3/UT) and Howard Berman (D–28/CA) – would reform the current agricultural guestworker program and provide an earned adjustment program for undocumented agricultural workers already in this country.

"This comprehensive bill recognizes that immigration reform must include both legal ways for employers to hire foreign workers when U.S. workers are not available, and a path to legitimize the status of those immigrants that have been supporting our industries and economy with their labor," continued Josten. "While the needs of the agricultural community are unique, we hope that this approach can help pave the way for legislation to address the needs of the broader business community for essential workers."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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