“Immigrant labor is absolutely essential to agriculture in Kentucky,” said H.H. Barlow, who operates a 130-cow dairy farm near Cave City. “It has a major economic impact on Kentucky and on the $5 billion agriculture economy.”
Barlow and Haney are both registered Republicans and both have lobbied Kentucky’s two U.S. Senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, to support the legislation. Paul, who has said he is exploring a 2016 run for President, has recently endorsed at least some form of immigration reform as his party attempts to reach out to Hispanic voters.
Barlow said Paul has been sympathetic, while he said McConnell “is very aware about this issue and he’s interested in how important it is to Kentucky.” Krebs, the Lexington attorney, said he met with McConnell’s staff who told him McConnell hopes for “a very robust debate,” rather than a quick trip through committees in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But McConnell hasn’t said if he’ll support the measure.
McConnell issued a statement Wednesday on the bill through his Washington press office, saying he appreciates the work done by the bipartisan group of senators. “But in order for any reform to be successful, congressional committees will need adequate time to review it and write legislation through regular order,” McConnell said. “And all members must have an opportunity to debate and amend any legislation that comes to the floor.”
CNHI reporter Ronnie Ellis contributed to this story