Commentary: Immigration reform critical for agriculture

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Immigration is the poster case for the dysfunction that grips our federal government.

A former Texas governor said not long ago that “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande,” and that as long as “moms and dads in Mexico couldn’t feed their children in their own country,” they would come to the U.S. It will take decisive action to stop the flow of illegal immigration and decisive action is something that we can’t seem to manage.

Here in Texas we have more at stake than a lot of other places. It’s true that we have a lot of labor-intensive agriculture and we need workers. It’s also true that Texas shares more than 1,200 miles of international border with Mexico. We have a lot of incentive to control our southern border.

It is critical that we devise a legal status for the 12 million or so undocumented workers that are presently in the United States and working. In my opinion, the combination of a legal status for those here, an electronic verification system and a worker visa program for the future will relieve the pressure that causes our current porous border. That’s why I like the proposals in the U.S. Senate. The bill they are writing recognizes that it will be impossible to stem the flow of undocumented workers unless we deal with the incentives that lure them here. That’s border security.

Part of agriculture needs labor. We are price takers, meaning that we must take the market’s prevailing price. We cannot raise our prices to compete with construction, food service or other industries. We seek good, hard-working and reliable labor, a relationship with willing employers and willing workers. The Senate immigration reform plan is a start to getting us there.

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Missouri  |  June, 12, 2013 at 01:41 PM

I agree that something needs to be done with our current dysfunctional immigration system but the Schumer/Rubio bill is a freaking joke. Secure our borders first THEN lets talk, but until that border is completely secured I don't want anyone talking about amnesty or anything related to it. Politicians have done this before and we are in a BIGGER mess because of it. Also, I am really tired of our politicians talking the illegals do jobs Americans don't want to do........hogwash. Stop giving away tax-payer money to people that are to lazy to work and see how quickly their tune might change. It is a lie and politicians just keep telling it. Why should an American work at a stinky meat packing plant or milk cows, when they can sit on their rears collect unemployment for two years, section 8 housing, free medical care, food stamps.....blah, blah, blah? Anyone talk about that abuse or problem.......NOPE! Stop rewarding "stay at home moms" who are collecting welfare on 2, 3, 4 or more kids by different dads that don't work. I worked jobs that "no Americans wanted to do" and it paid my bills and helped me get better jobs, rewarding lazy Americans with gov't handouts is not the answer and something needs to be done to curb that atrocity........

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