This just in from the INLA Future of nursery and landscape industry workforce is in jeopardy! Contact your Senators now!! On the heels of the House of Representatives passing an "enforcement only" bill, placing much of the workforce of the nursery and landscape industry in serious jeopardy, the U.S. Senate has begun debate on its own version of immigration reform. The nursery and landscape industry's message to the U.S. Senate needs to be crystal clear: Pass comprehensive immigration reform that allows us access to a legal workforce. The status quo will not work. The anti-immigration movement believes that there are plenty of American workers willing to dig rootballs and cut grass, if only employers would raise wages. They ignore the demographic reality that our population is aging, growth in the young workforce is declining, young workers are increasingly educated and disinterested in some jobs and major worker shortages are forecast especially for seasonal and less skilled positions. Congress cannot continue to turn its back on this reality without causing serious damage to America's agricultural and service economy! Much work needs to be done in a short amount of time in order to continue building support for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. The Senate must pass a good bill that secures our borders with a fair guest worker plan and a sensible solution for the undocumented workers already in the United States, as well as enforcement measures. The situation is dire, and ANLA is sounding the alarm. Every green industry member regardless of how much you are affected by this issue today needs to contact your two Senators now to urge a comprehensive approach to solving the illegal immigration problem, and one that also recognizes the unique needs of the agriculture sector, including nursery, greenhouse, and Christmas tree production. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CONTACT THE SENATE VIA INTERNET: If you are viewing this email via internet - CLICK HERE to contact your Senators. Click "THE FUTURE OF THE NURSERY AND LANDSCAPE WORKFORCE IS IN JEOPARDY" Enter zipcode to be directed to editable letter for your Senators. Be sure to use the "Tell-A-Friend" feature to invite your colleagues, coworkers and employees to participate as well. CONTACT THE SENATE VIA FAX: If you are viewing this message via fax Edit the sample letter found below. Fax and phone numbers for Senators can be obtained by contacting the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Print letter on your letterhead and sign. Fax letter to the Senators representing the state(s) of your residence and places of business. Fax copies to ANLA headquarters attn: Bob DeGemmis at (202) 789-1893. SAMPLE LETTER Senator (NAME) Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator: As a small business owner in the nursery and landscape industry, I write to urge you and the full Senate to take a full and fair comprehensive approach to immigration reform. I share the concern of most Americans that we are living in a society with a broken immigration system. Yet, I think most understand that immigrant workers are a good and necessary part of our economy. It is dismaying to hear that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a very anti-employer enforcement-only approach to deal with our broken system. If passed into law, this will be disastrous for American business as well as the competitiveness of our nation's economy. A true solution will require that any border and enforcement effort is paired with a workable seasonal and temporary worker program, along with a realistic approach to dealing with trained and trusted workers who are living and working in the U.S. but lack proper status. To keep our economy running, businesses need access to a legal, reliable labor force. Industries such as farming and landscaping have many seasonal and lower-skill jobs that are shunned by most Americans. The present system provides few options for these essential workers. Congress' failure to provide workable systems has encouraged illegal entry. From an employer's perspective, we walk a tightrope to meet our legal requirements when hiring, while avoiding discrimination. Now, there are millions of trained and trusted workers who are contributing to our society but lack a legal status. These workers are employed in agriculture, the hospitality and restaurant industry, health care, day care, construction, and other trades. Every American enjoys the benefits of their work. Any approach that ignores the important role of immigrants in this country is not in the interest of the country. Enforcement alone, or enforcement first, would devastate our economy. It is shocking that Congress would even conceive of advancing a piecemeal solution that will turn farmers into felons, business owners into villains, and create a culture of suspicion and fear. Any bill that Congress sends to the President's desk must include three essential elements: (1) measures that will improve our national security through better enforcement of the borders; (2) efficient temporary worker programs that allow employers to recruit workers from outside the U.S. for jobs that are shunned by Americans; and, (3) a way to earn a legal status for trained and trusted workers who are otherwise obeying our laws and contributing to our society. Targeted bills such as AgJOBS (S.359 and H.R.884), and comprehensive bills such as McCain-Kennedy/Flake-Kolbe-Gutierrez and Hagel, offer approaches to accomplish these three goals. We've heard enough of the rhetoric. It's time for Congress, with the Senate's leadership, to push forward a sensible solution. The American people deserve nothing less.