(Sept. 5) Fresh produce growers face a critical period as the U.S. House of Representatives leadership will apparently decide the week of Labor Day whether to act on comprehensive immigration reform.

Lax immigration enforcement policies have confounded average Americans, who want to know that the U.S. can muster the political will to control its border.

This popular sentiment has emboldened politicians to talk about tough enforcement measures relating to illegal immigration, while ignoring their responsibility to all of America — including agriculture — for a responsible solution.

More than anyone else, American growers who currently use the H-2A system to secure a legal workforce should be frustrated with the inability of Congress to create a level playing field for all of agriculture.

Employers who use the H-2A program have to pay mandated wages well above the minimum wage in many areas. Meanwhile, they compete with growers in other regions who, justified or not, have come to rely on lower-wage workers with bogus documents.

We know this issue must be solved, and it seems right to believe that the House of Representatives should work in conference with the Senate to produce a bill that will both enforce our immigration laws and provide workers for agriculture.

There is nothing left to do but solve the issue. Unfortunately, we can’t be sure of the intent of Congress in the face of election year politics.

Phone calls and visits to Capitol Hill from all industry members with a stake in immigration are needed now to sway Congress to act with responsibility and vision.