Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Immigration reform advocates stress its potential benefits to agriculture and rural areas

Advocates of immigration reform are emphasizing its importance to agriculture and rural areas in an effort to revive the Senate-passed bill that is languishing in the Republican-controlled House, where GOP leaders say they want to pass it in several bills, starting with border security. (Associated Press photo by David Goldman: A worker empties Vidailia onions into a truck near Lyons, Ga.)

"Failure to act on immigration reform 'is not an option'," more than 400 business and agricultural groups wrote Tuesday to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi," Chris Clayton reports for DTN The Progressive Farmer. They wrote, "Reform of an outdated, broken immigration system is essential if we are to achieve a fully revitalized economy that provides rewarding and lasting jobs and opportunities for all Americans." 

The business groups argued that reform would help stimulate the economy. There are about 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., many of whom work in agriculture and small businesses. About 70 percent of U.S. farmworkers are thought to be in the country illegally.

The White House also emphasized agriculture and rural America in a report saying the current immigration system "fails to support a predictable and stable workforce. Moreover, there continues to be insufficient U.S.-born workers to fill labor needs. . . . To this end, the president urges the House of Representatives to take action and move the Senate bill or similar comprehensive legislation forward, and stands willing to work with all parties to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible."

More than 100 Republican donors have also weighed in, sending a letter to GOP members of Congress Tuesday "urging them to support an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws," Ashley Parker reports for The New York Times. They wrote, “To fix our immigration system we need meaningful reforms that will (1) secure our borders, (2) provide a legal way for U.S.-based companies to hire the workers they need while making it impossible to hire workers here illegally, and (3) take control of our undocumented immigration problem by providing a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants who pay penalties and back taxes, pass criminal background checks, and go to the back of the line." (Read more)

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