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President's Immigration Action Complicates Reform Effort, California Farm Leader Says

01:24AM Nov 21, 2014

WeighRite-dairy_pix_2-1-13_028_-_Copy( Catherine Merlo, Dairy Today )

A long-term solution to immigration reform still depends on Congress.

Source: California Farm Bureau Federation

In the wake of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation said a long-term solution to immigration reform still depends on Congress.

“While we appreciate the president’s interest in reforming our inadequate immigration system, we’re afraid his action may complicate efforts to achieve a comprehensive, long-term solution,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said.

“Farmers, ranchers and their employees need a permanent solution,” Wenger said. “We understand the president’s frustration with the lack of action. We’re frustrated, too. But we’re equally frustrated by the failure of the president and congressional leaders to sit down and work something out.”

Wenger said action by Congress will be needed to provide “true, long-term reform” that allows immigrants to work in agriculture, and that provides a clear path for experienced but unauthorized employees to work legally in the United States.

“We hope the president’s action does not derail any possibility of congressional action in the near future,” he said.

California farmers and ranchers have been straightforward about the fact that they rely on an immigrant workforce, Wenger said, and about chronic problems in filling all the jobs farmers have available—despite rising wages and benefits and other efforts to attract more employees.

“We’ve also been clear that we support border security—and border security will be enhanced by a permanent reform of immigration law that allows farm employees to enter the U.S. legally, to move between employers as needed, to return to their home countries and then re-enter the U.S. legally when their work cycle resumes,” he said.

“In the interim, it’s unclear how many unauthorized immigrants might step forward to take advantage of a program that could evaporate after the inauguration of the next president,” Wenger said. “To truly serve farmers, ranchers and immigrant employees, it’s time for the president and Congress to stop trading competing statements and start trading concrete proposals for reform.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 57,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.