WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) spoke on the House floor prior to voting Yes for H.R. 2, the Secure Border Act of 2023 with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) about the importance of strengthening the border while providing essential reforms to immigration, asylum, and workforce laws.
“Border security is national security, which is why tackling the crisis on our southern border is crucial to delivering a nation that’s safe for the American people. The Biden Administration has offered no long-term solution and to date has been a failure at securing our southern border,” said Rep. Newhouse. “To end this crisis, we must secure our border while also including essential reform to our agricultural workforce laws. Without a stable workforce, our farmers and ranchers struggle to harvest and tend to their crops. This poses a direct threat to our nation’s food security, national security, and economic prosperity.”
Rep. Newhouse continued: “Congress should only implement E-Verify if we simultaneously stabilize our agricultural workforce, remove the seasonality requirement from the H-2A agricultural visa program, and provide wage reform that ensures H-2A wages and benefits are more market-based. After many discussions with House leadership, they have committed to addressing the agriculture workforce and E-Verify program concerns I raised. With their assurances of a solution and additional legislative language that ensures these concerns will be addressed should a final border security bill be sent to the President, I am proud to vote Yes on H.R. 2 and feel confident that we have made this a strong bill that will secure our southern border, protect our communities, and provide certainty to the agricultural industry.”
Full remarks as prepared below:
House Republicans know that border security is national security, which is why tackling this crisis is crucial to fulfilling our promise to the American people and delivering a nation that’s safe.
Since President Biden took office, there have been over 5 million illegal crossings over our southern border and more than 1.3 million people have evaded apprehension.
At the same time, fentanyl is pouring over the Southwest border and into our communities, killing Americans at catastrophic rates.
On May 11th, Title 42 is set to expire, which is only going to exacerbate the current border crisis.
President Biden and our Democratic colleagues have offered no long-term solution.
While H.R. 2 does much to strengthen the border, it fails to address an issue critical to America’s farmers—reliable access to agricultural workers. We need essential reform to our immigration, asylum, and workforce laws—issues I have been relentlessly working on since coming to Congress.
The United States is blessed with fertile lands and a climate conducive to agricultural productivity. However, without an adequate workforce, our farmers and ranchers struggle to harvest and tend to their crops. This poses a direct threat to our nation’s food security, national security, and economic prosperity.
Mandating E-Verify would have a devastating impact on American agriculture, including processing of agricultural products, if it were to be enacted without reforms to our agricultural labor system. They must go hand in hand. The current status quo is not working for our farmers, and we must address this crisis.
We cannot mandate E-Verify without stabilizing our existing agricultural workforce, removal of the seasonality requirement from the H-2A agricultural visa program, and wage reform that makes H-2A wages and benefits more market-based.
With the amended legislative language, I support H.R. 2 but seek a commitment from leadership and my colleagues that we continue the important work on true bipartisan legislation that will resolve the workforce needs in our industry.
Thank you, Mr. Leader. We need real reforms that will ensure our farmers and ranchers have the workforce they need to feed our country and ensure our food security and economic prosperity.
I yield back.
Majority Leader Scalise:
I want to thank my good friend for yielding. I also want to thank you for your unwavering support of American agriculture. The industry is lucky to have such a strong advocate and champion in Congress.
I am proud to bring HR 2 to the Floor today – it is the strongest border security bill this House has ever considered. I want to thank Chairmen Jordan, Green, and McCaul for their tireless work to put together this bill at such a pivotal time with Title 42 expiring today and our border crisis only getting worse. And I’d like to thank our lead sponsors, Mario Diaz Balart and Tom McClintock – they were both instrumental in getting this deal done.
Dan, I want to thank you for working with us – I know you have some concerns, but I am glad we have been able to work through those concerns.
As Majority Leader, I can commit to you that we will continue to work with you on legislation to address the workforce needs of our agriculture industry.
H.R. 2, the Secure Border Act of 2023, is the strongest and most consequential border security and immigration enforcement to date, fulfilling key promises made by House Republicans to do the following:
- Force the Biden Administration to restart construction of the border wall.
- Deploy technology to the Southern and Northern border.
- Increase the number of Border Patrol agents and provide bonus pay.
- Require transparency regarding illegal crossings from the Department of Homeland Security.
- Strengthen current law to protect unaccompanied children from human trafficking.
- End catch and release.
- End abuse of executive immigration authority.
- Strengthen and streamline the asylum process.