Immigration may take backseat to gun control laws, spending

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All eyes have been on Congress for the past few months as the nation crept closer to the edge of the “fiscal cliff.” Now that the cliff crisis has been diverted, some worry that Congressional discussion on gun control laws and the national budget will drown out and delay important debates surrounding immigration laws.

Immigration reform could potentially grant citizenship to 11 million people currently in the United States illegally and help alleviate a labor shortage felt by many facets of the agriculture industry, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.  Read more here.  

If immigration reform is overshadowed by other high-priority issues, some advocates worry that an inefficient and distracted Congress could continue to hold up immigration reform.

This latest setback comes after years of tardy promises by politicians on both sides of the aisle.  

Dairy Herd Network editor Tom Quaife wrote an editorial on the issue last year, urging someone in the government to step up and take a leadership role on the issue. In the article, Quaife lays out just a few examples of broken immigration reform promises by the Obama Administration:

  • June 2009: President Obama pledged to push for immigration reform, tapping a top Cabinet official to work with Congress and make it a priority.
  • November 2009: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a speech at the Center for American Progress that immigration reform would be a priority for the Obama Administration in 2010.

As Quaife notes, until Congress steps up to face immigration reform, dairies will continue to operate in limbo and struggle to find American-born workers willing to do the physically demanding work required by dairy operations. To read more, see “Leadership needed on immigration reform.”

Following the Dec. 14 shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., gun control has taken center stage. There are more "fiscal cliff" showdowns ahead. And, if one of the Supreme Court justices announces his or her retirement, it could set up a lengthy confirmation process.

Despite this, advocates hope that politicians can multi-task and tackle multiple issues at once.

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MO  |  January, 04, 2013 at 09:02 AM

I love this debate. It is truly amazing to listen to everyone justify their use of illegal labor. One of the primary components of any business plan is to have an adequate supply of labor available. But somehow this is ignored with agriculture. Somehow some of you have come to believe that those laws don’t apply to you. You believe that you can use any labor force you choose whether they are legal or not because your use is for the greater good, cheap food. However, when political pressure mounts and those laws are forced to be enforced you are all shocked and demand that the law be changed at once to accommodate you. I remind you that the law was there first. Those of you who choose to hire illegal workers are breaking the law. Whether the law is reasonable or not is irrelevant. You are breaking the law. There is a far greater problem: Statically those who can justify breaking a law soon can justify breaking many laws. Here is the point: If you choose to ignore the signs that the person you hired is an illegal worker because the pay rate is lower or that is the only person available you have broken the law and in your mind you are justified to do so. So now how many other laws are you going to have to break to keep this illegal worker from being discovered? How long before those manure handling laws just don’t apply to you either?

MO  |  January, 04, 2013 at 09:04 AM

Continued: Those of us who choose to obey the law (again, whether it is reasonable or not) are at a huge disadvantage. Our labor cost are far greater per pound of milk or bushel per acre harvested than those who are breaking the law. Then we hear the “leaders” of our respective industries demanding that the laws be changed. My question is why? Why should the law breakers be rewarded? How about we force those who are breaking the law to come into compliance with the law instead of changing the law to suit them? To those of you who say that the cost of food would skyrocket I would say then that is the time for the lawmakers to look at changing the law.

Queretaro Mexico  |  January, 04, 2013 at 05:06 PM

Jeff I agree . And let you know that in my country law breakers are oftenly rewarded by changes in our laws . It seems to me that politicians manipule laws to serve interests not principles. Regards, Rafael.

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