Both Rodriquez of UFW and Canhu of the Nisei Farmers League called out McCarthy for his lack of support for immigration reform. “If Congressman McCarthy does not want to vote for immigration (reform) then he needs to let the rest of the members of the San Joaquin Valley in the House of Representatives have a chance to vote on immigration legislation,” Rodriquez said. “All we are asking is either that we schedule a vote or present a proposal that works for our country and economy.”
Recent polling in California, Rodriquez said, suggests that three-quarters of those surveyed support immigration reform.
“The farm workers work 10 hours a day to harvest fruits and vegetables; we’re asking Congressman Kevin McCarthy and House Republican leaders to give us ten minutes to schedule a vote,” he said.
Canhu said it is vital that action on immigration reform happens by June, so the bill can go to conference in July and August and get to the president in September to sign. He said there has been an increase in drug cartel activity targeting farm workers, and a further delay in reform could make it worse, he said.
“The cartel is increasing in this country, victimizing these farm workers,” he said.
The drought and uncertain labor conditions has led to a decrease in acreage and an increase in drug cartel activity, Canhu said. Drug cartels are pressuring undocumented farm workers to become involved in the drug trade and also controlling terms of their employment, Canhu said.
“If House members don’t act within the next couple of months, that means they’re going to allow the cartel to increase the trafficking going on by victimizing families of farm workers,“ he said. “You cannot allow the cartel to set up business in this state by victimizing these people because of their documents,” he said.
Ken Barbic, senior director of federal government affairs for Western Growers, Irvine, Calif., said there is still a chance for House action on immigration reform this year.
“I think in terms of immigration possibilities, I think there is still activity in the House, still conversation among members, and there is still a window that we could see potential action this summer,” he said.
Agriculture, high-tech, and other industries are still engage in the push for immigration reform, he said.
“This year presents the best opportunity for action to occur,” he said. If the House does take up immigration reform, it likely will be a June and July window,” Barbic said.