The dogged pursuit of immigration reform by agriculture leaders and other advocates, in spite of periodic and predictable rejection by Congress for year upon year reminds me of that scene from the Dumb and Dumber movie. That’s when Lloyd (Jim Carrey) asks Mary, “What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me ending up together? Hit me. Give it to me straight. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?”
Mary: “Not good.”
Lloyd “You mean, not good, like 1 out of a 100?”
Mary: “I’d say more like 1 in a million.”
Lloyd “So you are telling me there is a chance? Yeah!”
On July 9, Western Growers’ President and CEO Tom Nassif joined with other leaders at a press conference in Washington, D.C. to push for Congressional action on immigration reform. The “Day of Action” from officials from business, manufacturing and agriculture associations, including Western Growers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for a New American Economy, American Farm Bureau Federation, Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers and AmericanHort.
In response to all the money effort and energy that immigration advocates have mustered, they keep getting the cold shoulder.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have removed all expectations of action on immigration this year. Still, immigration reform advocates are pushing.
Here is a release from the Agriculture Workforce Coalition
Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2014)--“The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) appreciates the courage, hard work and leadership that Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart has shown in the last several years in seeking to fix this country’s broken immigration system. In particular, he has shown a true understanding of and appreciation for the labor crisis being faced by agricultural producers across the country and across different commodities. The legislation that he has developed with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle would represent a significant step towards achieving meaningful immigration reform.
“We echo the disappointment he expressed today that his immigration bill will not be taken up in 2014. The AWC agrees that it is imperative that the House pass an immigration bill that addresses agriculture’s current workforce, creates a viable agricultural guest worker program and bolsters border and domestic security as soon as possible.
“Make no mistake—the workforce crisis being faced by America’s farmers and ranchers is real and must be solved legislatively. The AWC will continue urging Congress to act on the long-term solution to this problem that America’s farmers, ranchers and growers so desperately need and deserve.”
American Farm Bureau sounds a similar note:
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 10, 2014 – “We commend Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart for his dedication and outstanding leadership in urging reform to our nation’s broken immigration system. We still need House leadership to move forward on immigration reform legislation championed by Diaz-Balart. Not doing so will only deepen the labor crisis faced by America’s farmers and ranchers.
“Responsible immigration reform that addresses border security and provides farmers access to a legal and stable workforce remains a priority for Farm Bureau. True reform can only be accomplished through legislation. We will continue to press for solutions on this important issue on behalf of America’s food producers.”
TK: There you see it again - “AWC will continue urging Congress to act” and the Farm Bureau says “We will continue to press for solutions.”
Washington Post coverage noted the bill from Rep. Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., hasn’t been released but would probably offer some sort of legal status to the 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country, combined with the border security triggers that would have to be met first. But, alas, Republican leaders have said that the issue is dead in the House this year.
If there is really no chance to work with the GOP for immigration reform, then another strategy must be devised that has at least a long shot to succeed. Is it active opposition to GOP candidates who are dragging their feet on the issue?
I don’t know what plan B is, but the current approach is failing.