Immigration reform, which many see as a critical issue for farmers, is on a different path in the House of Representatives than it was in the Senate.
Senators passed a comprehensive Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act on June 26, by a margin of 68-32.
Republicans who control the House held a closed-door caucus meeting July 10 to determine how they would handle the immigration bill.
Leaders emerged from that meeting saying that they could not support the Senate's version of immigration reform, but they would tackle various aspects of reform step-by-step.
Some Republicans oppose any provision that provides what is called "a path to citizenship" for people who came to this country illegally as a matter of law. They said it would set a bad precedent.
The Senate's version of comprehensive immigration reform is supported by the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, co-founded by National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the United Farm Workers.
Last week, even as GOP leaders were debating how they would move forward on immigration, former President George W. Bush, attending a naturalization ceremony for new citizens, said he hoped lawmakers would "keep a benevolent spirit in mind" and recognize the contribution immigrants make to the United States.
During his term as president Bush tried and failed to secure comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.
In the House, the Judiciary Committee voted along party lines June 19 to approve H. R. 1773, the Agricultural Guestworker Act. This legislation was a stand-alone immigration reform measure introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and it now awaits further action by the House of Representatives.
The House Judiciary Committee has also passed legislation dealing with border security, e-verify, high tech visas, and enforcement.
The July 10 caucus meeting, during which House leaders said they could not support the Senate immigration measure, virtually assures that the House will pursue immigration reform in a piecemeal fashion rather than in a comprehensive bill.