On April 15, President Obama promised to pursue immigration reform if re-elected.
“I can promise that I will try to do it in the first year of my second term,” he told the Spanish-language TV network Univision.
Haven’t we heard that before? In June 2009, President Obama pledged to push for immigration reform, tapping a top Cabinet official to work with Congress and make it a priority.
Back then, he didn’t have the excuse of blaming Congress for any inaction on the issue. Both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats at the time.
In November 2009, in a speech at the Center for American Progress, U.S. Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano said immigration reform would be a priority of the Obama Administration in 2010.
Two and a half years later, we are still waiting for meaningful reform.
Dairy farms continue to operate in legal limbo.
In February, while attending the World Ag Expo in California, I heard an incredible story about a Michigan dairy farmer who had three immigration raids occur at his place. The last time, law enforcement came in with a helicopter and tank, he said. The raids, along with being put on probation and fined $2.7 million for hiring illegal immigrant workers, left the farmer in a tough spot. He realized he had to start hiring Anglos, and that proved daunting just trying to find enough Anglo workers to stick around and do the work.
The fact of the matter is, very few American-born workers are willing to do the hard, physical work associated with dairying. If it weren’t for immigrant workers, many dairies would be in major trouble.
Cows need to be milked; consumers need a reliable supply of dairy products, and billions of dollars flow through state and local economies because of it.
It’s time that the government came up with some sort of clarity on this issue.
It’s time someone stepped up and took a leadership role.
Addendum: I realize both political parties are at fault. Nothing meaningful got done during the Bush Administration on the subject of immigration reform. The editorial that appears here originally appeared in our online newsletter, Dairy Herd Network — and a number of people commented. I had to agree with a comment by “Stewart” from New York, who wrote:
“What is the point in delaying and not wanting to fix a problem? Both parties are fake when it comes to getting anything sensible done. To have such a major issue and only talk, talk and talk about it, and do nothing, makes absolutely no sense to the well-being of our country. If any reform is required, we must first start with the Senate and Congress… None of the blokes in DC feel any of it because they are so far away from the reality of things.”
It’s not a scientific sample, but on May 11 we asked readers of the Dairy Herd Network newsletter whether Obama or the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would be the most aggressive in pursuing immigration reform, if elected this November. Of the 106 people who voted, 59 percent said it would be Romney, 25 percent Obama, and 16 percent weren’t sure.