Immigration reform again lost traction in Washington last week when the U.S. House Republican leadership decided not to bring an immigration reform bill to the House floor, putting the brakes on any near-term solutions.

Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R), who was ready to introduce an immigration reform bill he says was comprehensive and bipartisan, said efforts to reform immigration, at least on the House side, has been stopped for now and so was his bill.

“Despite our best efforts, today (July 10) I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year. It is disappointing and highly unfortunate, because we have a unique opportunity to secure the borders, fix our broken immigration system, and strengthen our economy," he says in a statement.

“This system is not going to fix itself, and delaying a commonsense solution is only going to make matters worse as is evident by what is going on today with the crisis on the southern border.

“It is highly irresponsible not to deal with the issue.  … But we were sent here by the American people precisely to tackle difficult issues and not to take the easy way out.”

By blocking reform, he said, “we are in effect abdicating our duty.

“I hope that in the near future leadership will reconsider and allow my legislation to come to the floor.  I for one am not willing to give up and will continue to work until we can finally fix a broken immigration system that everyone recognizes is dysfunctional.”

The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association released a statement relating its disappointment in lack of movement on this issue, which has become one of its top priorities in recent years. Fruit and vegetable producers heavily rely on immigrant labor to harvest perishable produce in a timely way. Lack of reform or clear direction in Washington on where future immigration policy will end up keeps a cloud of uncertainty over the future of farm labor and its availability down the road.

"We are extremely disappointed at the refusal of Republican leadership in the House to consider legislation that would reform our broken immigration system.

"This (bill by Diaz-Balart) was our last, best chance for the near-term to achieve what FFVA and other groups have worked tirelessly on for years: immigration reform that would give growers the solution they need to have an adequate, legal workforce. The labor crisis in agriculture and its effect on our communities and economy will only worsen unless and until Congress steps up and does its job," the statement says.

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