E-Verify, Labor, Law Enforcement, Legislation, Politics

Thompson leads call to protect agriculture workforce

From LakeCoNews.com, Lake County News, 17 Feb 2012.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1) is leading a group of representatives in calling on President Obama to protect the U.S. agricultural workforce from a harmful “enforcement-only” approach to immigration reform.

In a letter to the president, Thompson and his colleagues in the House wrote that if only mandatory worker verification methods like E-Verify were implemented without regard to workers and employers, it would risk the economic vitality of the entire American agricultural industry.

“We need a fair and practical approach to immigration reform that ensures our agricultural industry has an adequate, legal, and stable workforce,” said Thompson. “An enforcement-only approach is unworkable for our farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers and would only exacerbate our current agricultural labor shortages. Our skilled farm workers are responsible for getting food on American tables, and they deserve a workable solution to our broken immigration law. E-Verify alone is not that solution.”

“Rep. Thompson and Rep. Farr clearly recognize the importance of finding a solution to the immigration debate,” said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “A solution that recognizes California’s unique labor needs is crucial to family farmers and ranchers.”

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, if the mandatory E-Verify program goes forward by itself, without providing producers a source of legal workers, it would cost our economy up to $9 billion a year in lost agricultural production.

Please find the full text of the letter below.

February 13, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

As your Administration works towards immigration reform, we urge you to consider the impact some policy changes under discussion would have on the agricultural industry. We are committed to working to protect our borders, providing support to those willing to follow our immigration laws and ensuring that those seeking a better life have the legal opportunity to embrace the American dream.

We must enact immigration policies that are tough, fair and practical. Successful immigration reform must establish common sense rules for whom and how many people are legally allowed into our country. With that principle in mind, we are concerned that the acute shortage of agricultural workers across our districts has not been adequately taken into consideration. We believe that any immigration reform legislation must provide farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers with a stable and legal workforce. It has been established that for every job created on a farm, many more non-farm support jobs are created in the supply chain of distribution. Yet our nation’s farmers, who are responsible for billions of dollars of economic activity every year, continue to face significant barriers to finding a legal and stable workforce. We are becoming increasingly concerned that some interim immigration reform proposals would create even more devastating labor shortages for growers. It is irrational to think mandatory worker verification methods (like E-Verify) alone are the solution to our country’s illegal immigration issues. If implemented improperly and without regard to workers and employers, it would risk the economic vitality of the entire American agricultural industry.

We need to find the right balance between ensuring American citizens have the best chance of finding a job while also ensuring our agricultural industry has an adequate, legal, and stable workforce for years to come. We stand ready to work with you to accomplish that goal.

Sincerely,

Rep. Mike Thompson
Rep. Sam Farr
Rep. Lois Capps
Rep. Jim Costa
Rep. Bob Filner
Rep. John Garamendi
Rep. Jared Polis
Rep. Lynn Woolsey

Source: LakeCoNews.com, Lake County News, “Thompson leads call to protect agriculture workforce” 17 Feb 2012.

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