The likelihood of comprehensive immigration reform legislation being passed this year by Congress has lessened, following comments made last week by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Speaker Boehner made it clear that House Republicans are unwilling to consider any immigration reform legislation in an election year.

This change in course follows previous indications that the House would consider the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) passed by the Senate last June. This comprehensive immigration reform legislation addresses border security, immigrant visas, interior enforcement, reforms to nonimmigrant visa programs and jobs for youth.

Relating specifically to the horse industry, the Senate bill as passed would replace the current H-2A visa nonimmigrant temporary worker program, used by horse farms, with a new agricultural worker program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Senate bill also would make improvements to the H-2B visa program used by trainers and create a new W-visa low skilled worker program that permits such status for an initial three-year period, with additional three-year extensions possible.

The NTRA will report any Congressional movement on comprehensive immigration legislation in this space.