Sean Gilbert of Gilbert Orchards, right, speaks to Sen. Patty Murray, left, as Mike Gempler of the Washington Growers League listens.

Sean Gilbert of Gilbert Orchards, right, speaks to Sen. Patty Murray, left, as Mike Gempler of the Washington Growers League listens.

 

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, told a group of growers and others in Yakima today (May 2) that a bi-partisan immigration reform bill continues to show momentum and is expected to come to the Senate floor in June for debate and vote.

Efforts in the recent past to significantly change immigration law have failed, but the continued rise of the Hispanic community as a political force and a new lobbying strategy aimed at enlisting traditional Republican supporters has changed expectations.

At a gathering organized by her office, Murray heard from an immigrant worker, members of the business community, a growers representative and two Yakima-area growers who spoke strongly in favor of passage.

Among the speakers was Sean Gilbert of Gilbert Orchards, who urged Murray to continue work on the bill.

“As a local farmer, I know how important Agriculture is to our local, state and national economy,” said Gilbert. “Americans require safe, nutritious and affordable food to eat, which we can do with a stable, dependable workforce….I appreciate and support Sen. Murray’s and others’ efforts to strengthen the American economy by recognizing the dignity and responsiveness of a thriving farming community and ensuring a safe, sustainable food system. I support Democrats and Republicans working together to support this Senate bill promotion common-sense immigration reform.”

Murray also heard from Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, and Bruce Allen, president of Columbia Reach Pack and former chairman of both the Washington State Horticulture Association and the Tree Fruit Research Commission.

“There is momentum to get this done,” Murray said.