Industry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immigration Plan

On Thursday, Nov. 20, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to fix the current immigration system in the U.S. There are some protections for those who work in agriculture, but the president’s policy was not as sweeping as legislation proposed last year by the Senate.

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“These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation,” says Tom Nassif, CEO and president of Western Growers.

Here is a roundup of comments made by key industry organizations following the president’s announcement:

  • The president’s measures do not address the issue of an agricultural workforce. Employers are still seeking a solution that will ensure that growers have access to a stable and secure workforce.” — Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
  • “What farmers, ranchers and growers need, and what the American people deserve, is for policy makers in Washington to do their jobs and act to solve the country’s broken immigration system.“ — Agriculture Workforce Coalition
  • “We believe both sides need to ratchet down the rhetoric and come to the table to get this done in 2015.” —United Fresh Produce Association
  • “Only legislation can solve the problem which our leaders have recognized as our top priority for nearly a decade. A solution must include work authorization for the current workforce and the creation of a new, market-based visa program to meet future labor needs.” — USApple Association
  • “We will oppose any piecemeal legislative package that fails to put the agriculture industry at the front of the line. Our industry is in jeopardy. We expect no less than specific solutions that address problems unique to our industry.” — Tom Nassif, Western Growers CEO and president

Need For Reform Is Great

There is some protection for those who work in agriculture, as this policy will likely protect 250,000 undocumented immigrants working on farms from deportation. According to the National Center for Farmworker Health, an estimated 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers help support a $28 billion fruit and vegetable industry in the U.S. Of those 3 million, it is estimated that 72% are foreign-born.

Source: Agriculture Workforce Coalition, United Fresh Produce Association, USApple Association, Western Growers, GrowingProduce.com staff

Speak Up

With the need for immigration reform increasing, learn how to express the needs of your business to policy makers in Washington. GenNext Growers offers a webcast featuring Florida Representative Ben Albritton on how growers can voice their concerns to help ensure a stronger future for the industry. Register here to view this webcast.

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Avatar for Southern Tier Farmer Southern Tier Farmer says:

The discussion was effectively shut down by Tom Nassif’s comment that farmers will oppose any “piecemeal legislative package”. So basically Tom wants to keep on doing the same thing again and again and again, (definition of insanity anyone?). Oh and the use of the word “undocumented” is heard by all as “illegal” it is time for the amnesty crowd to do like the climate changers did and get a new phrase. Instead of “global cooling” or “global warming”, it is now “climate change”. How about “administratively deficient” worker?

Avatar for Dan Dan says:

Most of the illegal immigrants currently in this country started out working in ag or the hospitality industry. After a year or two they learn some other skills or just find other employment in other industries. There is no shortage of workers here, the problem for the ag industry is that they have lost most of their workforce to other jobs that are either better paying or have better working conditions. The industry needs to do a much better job of retaining the workforce they have and stop expecting the country to allow a million new immigrants a year to enter the country to replace the people we lose.

Avatar for Matt Matt says:

The president’s unlawful actions (He can not “grant” work Visa’s since the law says that is illegal) will only make those who support such actions look terribly bad.

When it comes right down to it, we need to admit that these illegal aliens are working for sub-standard wages. If they were all of a sudden made “legal” they would immediately demand better wages, benefits, etc. This would then put the ag industry back where it is now; looking for illegal workers who cost less.

The ONLY type of “guest workers” program that will ever pass muster with Republicans will be one where the “guest worker” must leave the country when the season is over, requires a biometric record to track the guest worker (to make sure they actually leave when the season is over) and possibly give guest workers who follow the law a path to permanent citizenship after a number of years of good behavior and demonstrated desire to become Americans (Not foreigners who want to extract money for people back home).

The Republicans are NOT going to pass any bill that grants anything like amnesty. It would be political suicide if they want the presidency in 2016. They MIGHT pass a bill with the “guest worker” status with biometric tracking, but they can not apply that to people who are here now illegally. That again would be political suicide.

Avatar for crush davis crush davis says:

This isn’t about the integrity of the work force or the plight of the migrant in the U.S. This about the democrats’ wanting 20 million new votes. Period. And THAT’s why nobody will do anything about it. The democrats want nothing less, and the republicans won’t budge b/c they know they’re finished if the democrats get their way. The end result? Lots of rhetoric by lots of corrupt, unethical people who are just looking out for themselves at the end of the day. Despicable. They are all criminals who should be doing time.

Avatar for Southern Tier Farmer Southern Tier Farmer says:

Dan and Matt have it right. It is likely that most of the illegals we have here now will not want to spend their days in the fields or on a processing line. Instead they will openly look for work in other sectors that will pay as much or more and in a more comfortable environment. Kind of like what the residents of this country do now. You know the ones the farmers say are too lazy to do the work they need done. And here is something else. Now with obamacare many of these businesses that have to abide by obamacare rules will hire these illegals because obama said himself on TV that the illegals would not be eligible for obamacare therefore these businesses can hire them and not worry about having to provide it or pay a penalty for not providing it. A win win for these businesses that before would have to pay more for one of those lazy American workers. The only solution will have to involve a guest worker program with return to native country and a solid biometric ID system for tracking. This can also help to do away with that horrendous H2A program.