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American Horse Council Issues Memorandum



Please Contact Your Senators Supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The House of Representatives has passed "The Border Protection,
Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" (H.R. 4437),
introduced by Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).  This legislation
focuses on an "enforcement first" approach to the immigration and foreign
worker issue by tightening our borders and implementing strict enforcement
policies against undocumented foreign workers and American employers
responsible for hiring them.  If the bill became law, it would result in new
restrictions and penalties, but no change to the existing system to hire
legal foreign workers.

The Senate is expected to take up this bill in the upcoming weeks.  We are
trying to generate as many contacts as possible.    It is crucial that
Senators hear from the horse industry within this time period.  Please
forward this request to your membership and ask them to contact their
Senators. 

Senators need to hear that the horse industry, and American agriculture at
large, supports comprehensive immigration reform that ensures U.S. employers
have access to a legal and stable workforce.  The current H-2A and H-2B
foreign worker programs do not adequately address the needs of the horse
industry or other American businesses that depend on foreign workers for
jobs that are not filled by American workers.  Without provisions in place
that address these needs, the horse industry could face a major labor
shortage that will have severe affects on the industry and the U.S. economy.

Personalized letters and phone calls are effective ways to have your voice
heard by your Senators and influence this important debate.  Attached is a
sample letter to Senators that we encourage you to personalize and fax to
your Senator's Washington, D.C. office.  We have also attached talking
points for you to include with letters and/or to use if you are able to meet
with or call your Senator's offices to encourage them to adopt comprehensive
reform.  If you need contact information for your Senators, please visit
www.senate.gov or call the AHC.

Your input does make a difference and the outcome of this issue will have a
significant impact on the horse industry.  Please act now.  If you have any
questions, please feel free to contact the American Horse Council at (202)
296-4031.

[Draft Letter to Senators]


The Honorable XXXXX
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators

I am writing to you about an urgent issue that will have a tremendous effect
on the horse industry, the agricultural industry and our national economy.
As you are well aware, Congress has begun to focus its efforts on
immigration enforcement and border security.  As these debates continue, I
respectfully urge you to include the desperate need for comprehensive
immigrant and non-immigrant worker reform in the debate.

Maintaining a practical, streamlined guest-worker program is pivotal to the
stability of the horse industry and our nation's agricultural industry,
particularly as we face a dire labor shortage.

The American Horse Council's 2005 Economic Impact of the Horse Industry on
the United States report documents that the horse industry has a total
economic impact of $102 billion, supports 1.4 million jobs, pays $2 billion
in taxes and includes 4.7 million Americans.  As a [breeder, owner, rancher,
trainer, etc.], my horse operation employees [explain your operation and any
related figures]. 

In order to maintain this industry, we also rely on legal foreign workers
who provide both semi-skilled and entry-level labor in jobs American workers
are not filling.  Many of these workers are seasonal, though some are not.

Currently, the H-2A guest worker program is not designed to meet the
practical needs of the horse industry.  Targeted reform bills, such as
AgJOBS (S.359, H.R.884), would overhaul and streamline the current system.
Other bi-partisan bills in both the Senate and House offer good ideas on
comprehensive reform.  I ask that you consider legislation that provides
American employers access to a legal and stable workforce as part of any
comprehensive action on immigration reform.  It is critical that any final
bill include changes to the current H-2A program and an earned adjustment
provision so that the current employees, many of whom are in management
roles, can transition into legal status without sharply disrupting American
businesses that rely on them.  This realistic approach to reform protects
our national economy and our national security.

Please support comprehensive immigration reform as an important and
necessary part of this national debate.  If you have any questions about
[Name of State and Business, farm, ranch], please feel free to contact us.
Thank you for preserving our industry and livelihoods.

Sincerely, 

POINTS IN SUPPORT OF COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
January 2006

The horse industry has long sought a solution to its labor and immigration
challenges.  Initial efforts focused on reform of the existing H-2A guest
worker program.  More recent efforts have also included approaches to retain
experienced workers and transition in an orderly way to wider reliance on
guest worker programs.

The horse industry and the rest of agriculture is seeing actual labor
shortages, rather than just shortages of alien workers.  These shortages are
expected to get worse in the upcoming months as employers struggle to retain
their work force and hire new employees.

In December, the House of Representatives passed a narrow, expensive, and
anti-employer border security and internal enforcement bill (H.R.4437).  If
it becomes law, it would impose new burdens, fines, and penalties on
employers; but it would do nothing to provide labor-intensive agriculture
access to a legal and stable workforce.

The Senate is expected to take up the issue shortly.  It is vital that the
Senate pass a bill that ensures U.S. employers access to a legal workforce.
Specific to the needs of agriculture, the following are reasons for reform:

o    Despite our best efforts to recruit U.S. workers, horse owners,
breeders and training facilities still need legal H-2A foreign workers to
fill positions involving the production, training and care of horses.

o    The horse industry employs many American workers.  But there are not
enough to fill what are termed semi-skilled jobs, but which are in reality
positions requiring familiarity with horses.  These jobs are important to
our industry and to the health and welfare of our horses.

o    Before alien workers are allowed to be hired, a stringent, formal and
regulated application process must be completed.  U.S. employers must
demonstrate to state and U.S. Departments of Labor that there are no
available U.S. workers to fill the positions.  Once that is accomplished,
the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service must approve the admission of
foreign workers.  This approval is transmitted to foreign consuls where the
alien worker receives his approved visa.

o    The horse industry relies on the H-2A program as the only way it can
legally hire alien workers for temporary positions when they cannot find
Americans for the job.

o    Without the manpower provided by H-2A seasonal short-term workers, the
horse industry could not operate or would be short-staffed.  This could
result in the termination of other jobs in the industry filled by U.S.
workers.

o    Despite the best efforts of breeders and ranchers, seasonal and
physically demanding jobs in the horse industry do not attract enough
American workers with the knowledge of how to handle and care for horses.
As a result, the industry relies on alien labor to fill some positions.

o    The American Horse Council's 2005 Economic Impact of the Horse Industry
on the United States report documents that the horse industry has a total
economic impact of $102 billion, supports 1.4 million jobs, pays $2 billion
in taxes and includes 4.7 million Americans.  For every job we lose, we
expect to also lose other jobs in related economic sectors - equipment,
boarding, transportation, and services - that are supported by the horse
industry.  These are jobs filled by native-born Americans.

o    Congress is considering a range of border security and enforcement
measures that are important and needed.  Yet, many of these measures, if
enacted without additional changes to the process to hire legal foreign
workers, could have serious unintended consequences for the horse industry,
other U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy.

o    U.S. agriculture supports more enforcement and border security, but an
enforcement-only approach offers an incomplete solution to the problem of
illegal immigration and alien employment.  Despite significant increases in
resources and personnel, we have not put a dent in the numbers; in fact,
illegal immigration has increased.  And we will not completely solve the
problem unless we tackle the root cause, the pull of opportunities here and
the lack of sufficient legal channels.  We need a comprehensive approach to
solve illegal immigration.

o    The Senate should pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.  In
addition to border security measures, such a package must include a
temporary worker program for the unique needs of labor-intensive horse and
agriculture industries.  It must also include a realistic means for trained
and experienced workers who lack proper legal status to earn status subject
to conditions like future work and lawful behavior.  The AgJOBS legislation
(S.359) is a model for a workable approach to these needed reforms.

o    Please support comprehensive immigration reform that not only protects
the U.S. and U.S. jobs but also makes it possible for those industries, like
the horse industry, that must rely on legal foreign workers to have access
to such workers in a reasonable, federally-regulated program.

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