Agriculture advocacy groups are trying to bring back the passion for immigration reform that the Republicans and Democrats both showed at the beginning of the Obama administration. House Republicans have been the most recent targets of agriculture groups’ frustrations, and a demand for reform has never been stronger. However, many obstacles still exist that make legislative reform this year unlikely.
Frustration over inaction
Farmers and agriculture groups that support the Republican Party are receiving pessimistic responses from House representatives concerning the issue of immigration reform, and many activists are being led to believe that any plans for legislative action will be postponed until 2017. Leaders of these agricultural communities say many of their members, which include both large and small farming businesses and crop operations, vote Republican and support the GOP through donations. But the people in these agriculture groups think the inaction of the GOP’s leadership means the party no longer represents their best interests, and agriculture advocates might be locking up their checkbooks until progressive changes occur.
California native Chuck Herrin, the owner of a large farm labor contracting business and a lifelong Republican, believes the inability of the GOP to lead the way to immigration reform is unacceptable. According to Herrin, the party’s priorities are misaligned.
“What we have going on now is a farce — a waste of time and money,” Herrin told The New York Times. “We need these people to get our food to market.”
Why immigration reform is crucial to the agriculture industry
At the center of the debate are immigrants in the farm fields of California. According to estimates provided by the University of California, Davis, California has more than 2.5 million undocumented immigrants working in the state. In regions like Central Valley, the majority of agricultural workers are immigrants, and nearly half do not have their green card or work visa. The paralysis over immigration policy is affecting the production processes of hundreds of farms in California that depend on the workers to tend to the thousands of acres of asparagus, grapes, tomatoes and peach crops in the state.