Tell it to The Packer | Letter to the Editor

Barry Bedwell, president
California Grape and Tree Fruit League

In the May 20 edition of The Packer, Editor Greg Johnson put forth the opinion “Don’t expect immigration reform this year” and referenced the recent United Fresh panel discussion in San Diego of which I was a participant.

While I concur with Greg’s general assessment of the challenges immigration reformers face in the House of Representatives, I am not in agreement with his ultimate conclusion or with his characterization of my comments that “politics is more important than representing your (House members) constituents.”

In fact, I absolutely believe that the opposite is true.

Namely, key Republicans in the House, like those in California’s San Joaquin Valley, should and must realize that the interests of their constituents indeed are more important than politics and act accordingly in passing immigration reform.

Our focus, as members of the produce community, must be to effectively and strongly communicate with all House members on the vital need for reform and what failure to do so means to our domestic food supply.

And while our stated goal is for the House to produce a bill that is worded as closely as possible to the version negotiated by agriculture in S. 744, the minimum achievement desired, as stated correctly by Chalmers Carr who was also on the panel, must be a bill that can be conferenced with the Senate.

I certainly believe that such a result is obtainable given the right focus and effort and it must be this year. I shudder to think about the consequences of a failure to do so.