What is in this article?:
- US agriculture still waiting on immigration reform
- Agriculture waiting
- Immigration reform will take a big portion of the legislative spotlight this year, according to a bipartisan group of eight senators offering proposals to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Leaders in the House and Senate are vowing that immigration reform will take a large portion of the legislative spotlight this year.
On Jan. 28, a bipartisan group of eight senators offered proposals to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. Obama will present his own proposals on Tuesday and a group in the House is expected to offer its own ideas soon after.
Under the Senate plan, the 11 million would be brought into legal fold once back taxes and a fine are paid. However, though legal, they would not be able to gain full U.S. citizenship until borders are secure and systems are in place to ensure employers don’t hire an illegal worker. Who will verify that borders are secure, and how that security will be determined, is yet to be hashed out.
The impetus for reform comes after a handful of alarming developments in 2012. For agriculture, those include crops left to rot in fields for lack of picking crews after several states in the Southeast passed laws aimed to curtail illegal immigration.
Perhaps more pressing for lawmakers is long-term Republican Party viability following a national election where some 70 percent of Latino voters voted for President Obama. Whether the shifting demographics in the country are enough of a push for the GOP to take action is still unknown – especially considering the manner similar reform efforts in 2007 and 2010 were doomed with concerns over illegal immigrants gaining “amnesty.”
The “no amnesty” killing stroke for reform legislation in recent years – prompted by a controversial 1986 law that legalized millions of illegal immigrants -- was acknowledged by Arizona Sen. John McCain on Monday. The current approach by the Senate would not repeat “the mistakes of 1986,” said McCain.
For agriculture, the need for immigration reform has been too long in coming.
National Farmers Union, “is very pleased to see that the bipartisan group of Senators came together and recognized that immigration is such an important issue for this Congress,” says Chandler Goule, NFU vice president of Government Affairs. “We’re also pleased to see that the group specified and identified agriculture as a unique sector that not only relies on immigrant labor but will be significantly impacted in a proper manner.
“We look forward to working with the Senate to make sure we get a good reform and immigration policy in place. At the same time, we must maintain a labor workforce in order to continue to have productive agriculture system.”