(Jan. 4) Industry supporters of comprehensive immigration reform hope for Senate action in the early days of the 110th Congress.

In fact, AgJobs legislation was expected to be introduced by Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Jan. 4, said Sharon Hughes, executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Council of Agricultural Employers.

“It will probably be about another week before AgJobs is introduced in the House,” she said Jan. 3.

AgJobs provides for reforms in the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and also allows illegal immigrants working in agriculture to continue to work in the U.S. if they meet certain conditions.

While Hughes said the Senate is expected to act on AgJobs first, she said the House of Representatives should be more receptive to comprehensive immigration legislation this year. Last year, the House passed an enforcement-focused immigration bill and never forged a compromise with the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill.

Though House Republicans thwarted such comprehensive legislation in the last Congress, the change in control of the House from Republicans to Democrats may be a catalyst for greater compromise.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chair of the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee, should be friendly to AgJobs, Hughes said.

Meanwhile, Hughes said the Senate’s success in passing AgJobs in the comprehensive immigration package last year gives her hope that AgJobs can again be put through by the Senate.

“As usual, it is always more difficult to get things through on the House side,” she said.

However, she noted President Bush has set a bipartisan tone, raising hopes Congress can work things out on immigration.

Not all lobbyists are as hopeful. Austin Perez, spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C., said he thought it was “highly unlikely” Congress would deal with immigration early in the session.

“The chatter of what I keep hearing on the Hill is that (Senate) debate on immigration will be in the late spring or summer,” he said.

Perez said Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., may want changes made to the comprehensive immigration bill passed in the Senate last year, and that could complicate the process this year as a new package is put through.