Immigration reform receives push back from Idaho lawmakers

Senate Joint Memorial 101 is requesting that Idaho’s delegation take deliberate step to advocate for - and introduce - legislation aimed at federal immigration reform.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:40 PM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Legislation that in part seeks to address the issues facing Idaho’s foreign workforce is receiving push back from Idaho lawmakers.

Senate Joint Memorial 101 (SJM101) is requesting that the congressional delegation representing the State of Idaho in the Congress of the United States take deliberate step to advocate for - and introduce - legislation aimed at federal immigration reform.

Bill sponsor Senator Jim Guthrie said the federal government has failed to secure the border - and to provide a “Guest Worker VISA Program” that can meet the labor demands, particularly as it relates to year-round agriculture.

According to the legislation:

Earlier in the session, Guthrie said there are roughly 37,000 undocumented workers that have jobs and pay around $30 million a year in taxes. He said some them are filling vital positions in Idaho’s agriculture, construction, food processing, manufacturing and hospitality sectors.

Additionally, SJM101 advocates for an effective process by which persons currently present in the United States without lawful status and who are gainfully employed ,can obtain work authorization or residency status, without a pathway to United States citizenship, provided they have no criminal history beyond their immigration-related violations.

“Trying to put a sharper point on and bring more focus on the unattended consequences for us here in Idaho as we try to fill the needs in our labor force,” said Sen. Guthrie.

However, on Monday morning in the Senate, some lawmakers requested that the legislation be sent back to the Senate State Affairs Committee for a public hearing before it votes on the resolution.

The Idaho Freedom Caucus has come out against the legislation, citing it, “promotes amnesty to illegal aliens and weakens our nation’s border security”.

“I want the public to fully weigh in on this issue. I know it’s somewhat a contentious issue. Questions of amnesty have been talked about and things like that,” Sen. Dan Foreman said.

However, some members from the Idaho State Affairs Committee pushed back against the motion.

“It was already on the agenda in state affairs. It was already debated fairly and properly. Those who had the opportunity from the public to debate and provide testimony had the opportunity to do so.” said Senate State Affairs Committee vice-chair Sen. Treg Bernt.

The motion to send the legislation back to committee for a public hearing failed on the Senate floor, and it will remain in the Senate, where it will have to be voted on before being sent to the House.