Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., chairman of the House Administration Committee and member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, will join the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference Oct. 4, to discuss his amendment to the controversial and potentially devastating Legal Workforce Act proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and passed through the full committee last week.
Rep. Lungren’s amendment provides for a guest worker program that would enable agricultural operations to hire seasonal work. While the language passed by the committee does not contain Rep. Lungren’s amendment, the congressman has been at the forefront of negotiations within the Judiciary Committee and the full House of Representatives to include a farm worker provision in the legislation before it moves on to the Senate.
“We are deeply honored to have Congressman Lungren participate in this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference. He has been an important leader in the House in trying to find a workable solution that addresses the unique challenges that a mandatory E-Verify system will place on the fresh produce industry,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “This will be a timely keynote speech for our attendees and comes at a critical juncture during negotiations on this legislation before it reaches the House floor.”
On Sept. 21, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Legal Workforce Act mandating the use of E-Verify for all employers in the United States. Under the measure, employers must confirm all employees’ eligibility through the federal E-Verify system. United Fresh has advocated over the last year for a comprehensive approach to E-Verify legislation including provisions for a practical, efficient worker program to address the needs of specialty crop agriculture.
“The produce supply chain grinds to a halt without reliable labor, so a viable, practical guest worker program is an absolute must for any immigration solution, and we continue to push for a guest worker provision,” added Guenther. “The legislation in its current form will devastate American agriculture, so this makes Congressman Lungren’s work on this matter all the more critical, and underscores the importance of uniting the industry’s voice here in Washington.”
Rep. Lungren’s discussion of immigration policy adds to an unparalleled lineup at this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference, including Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas, R-Okla., House Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Chair Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the United FreshPAC dinner featuring Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., face-to-face meetings with officials at USDA, FDA and EPA, including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, POLITICO co-founder Jim VandeHei, market segment-specific education sessions and the popular Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill. Additionally, this year’s schedule includes the most visits to congressional offices by conference attendees in the event’s history.
More information on the Washington Public Policy Conference is available at www.unitedfresh.org/programs/wppc.