Farmers Fight Republican Immigration ID Plan

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Rep. Lamar Smith
House Republicans seem bent on biting the hands that feed them…and every other American.
Farmers, usually stalwart supporters of the GOP, are upset over a Republican bill that would require them to verify the immigration status of field workers, who often are illegal immigrants. Estimates vary from 50% to 70% of the number of farmworkers nationwide who are undocumented, resulting in a longstanding practice by farmers of turning a blind eye to the illegal status of their employees.
Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) insists, however, that the problem of illegal immigrants must be addressed in American agriculture. While farmers are fighting Smith’s bill, other GOP backers—restaurant owners and home builders, to name just two—are supporting the plan that would entail farmers using the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system to check individuals’ immigration status.
Farmers insist the legislation would deprive their $390 billion industry of a vital workforce that, if they lose it, could result in crippling financial losses for many farms.
“This would be an emergency, a dire, dire situation,” Nancy Foster, president of the U.S. Apple Association, told The New York Times. “We will end up closing down.”
Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, warned GOP lawmakers not to take their agricultural constituents for granted, saying that if “the Republicans do this to them without a workable worker program, it will change their voting patterns or at very least their involvement in politics.”
Smith’s bill is said to have a good chance of passing the House. But the Senate, controlled by Democrats, could kill the measure.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Farmers Oppose G.O.P. Bill on Immigration (by Jesse McKinley and Julia Preston, New York Times)


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