Are snowboard instructors key to American immigration policy? Well, they're important enough to be specifically included in the Senate bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration reform bill.
How did that happen? The original 844-page Gang of Eight bill, released in mid-April, granted a break to certain foreigners who come to the United States to work but do not wish to settle here. The Gang -- which includes Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet from the nation's skiing capital of Colorado -- gave one of those breaks to anyone who is "a ski instructor seeking to enter the United States temporarily to perform instructing services."
That was in mid-April. A couple of weeks later, the Gang released an 867-page substitute bill filled with changes large and small. Among those changes was new language adding snowboarders to the ski-instructor clause.
In the revised bill, the break goes to anyone who is "a ski instructor, who has been certified as a level I, II, or III ski and snowboard instructor by the Professional Ski Instructors of America or the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, or received an equivalent certification in the alien's country of origin, and is seeking to enter the United States temporarily to perform instructing services."
So now the American Association of Snowboard Instructors has been recognized in historic legislation that could bring profound changes to the United States.
The bill has been public for less than a month, and the substitute version for an even shorter period of time. Only now are analysts beginning to go through all of its details, and only now are those details surfacing in the public conversation.
For example, in another overlooked portion of the bill, as conservative writer Yuval Levin points out, the Gang of Eight "defin[es] the hourly wages of immigrant farm workers to the second decimal place."
It's true. Among other things, the bill sets pay scales for "Animal Breeders; Graders and Sorters; Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse; and Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch and Aquacultural Animals." The Gang dictates, for example, that graders and sorters will be paid $9.84 an hour in 2016, equipment operators $11.58 in 2015, and nursery and greenhouse workers $9.64 in 2016.