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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

WHEN PEOPLE GET CREATIVE

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What happens when business groups, unions, workers, government officials, pro-immigration advocates and immigration restrictionist groups all put their heads together to craft a solution to a problem? Just look to Colorado.



I'm talking about an initiative in that state to make it easier for farmers to work through the incredibly difficult H-2A visa process for foreign agricultural workers. The H-2A agricultural worker program has no cap and should be a heavily used visa category. But it is not largely because of arduous recruiting requirements, transportation rules, housing requirements and lengthy processing times. Only 50,791 of the visas were used in 2007 despite the need for millions of workers in agriculture.



Colorado has just passed legislation that will help farmers work their way through the application process. The state will work with the Mexican government and a Mexican labor firm to recruit workers on behalf of Colorado farmers. And the United Farm Workers union will play a helpful role in working with the governments of Mexico and Thailand. The union has worked out agreements with authorities in those countries to expedite passport services, background checks and training.



NumbersUSA leader Roy Beck has given his restrictionist organization's backing to the plan and called it "encouraging."



I'm encouraged as well. The H-2A program still has a lot of problems and this plan by no means solves the much bigger issues in the immigration system. But if it is successful for Colorado, it could serve as a model for groups to work together to come up with a more comprehensive strategy to dealing with our immigration needs - both for enforcement and for legal immigration programs that work.

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