Western Growers Association has Mixed Feelings on Recent Supreme Court DACA Decision
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
The 4-4 ruling on immigration reform last month by the Supreme Court of the United State’s (SCOTUS) affirmed the lower court’s injunction against President Obama’s executive order, which would have granted deportation deferrals and temporary legal work status to about five million undocumented immigrants. Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers Association (WGA), has been vocal about the need to establish some type of immigration reform.
Nassif compared the recent SCOTUS ruling to what happened when a 2013 U.S. Senate-endorsed bill that supported a pathway to citizenship was never passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. “The House did not want a pathway to citizenship,” said Nassif. “They were not even sure if they wanted a pathway to legalization. Most Republicans did not even want a border security bill in the House coming to the floor for a vote because they didn’t want any immigration reform—whatsoever.”
Nassif said, “The House was part of that Send-them-home! crowd that considered anything you did—even if it was putting them on probation—as amnesty. It is interesting that with the House doing nothing about immigration, what we have today is amnesty, because we’re not doing anything about it.”
Nassif expressed mixed feelings about the SCOTUS decision. “In a way, it disappointed us; in a way, it didn’t. It didn’t disappoint us because there was no requirement that people working in agriculture who might qualify for this Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) would actually remain working in agriculture.”
To get a pathway under the Senate bill, farmworkers would have to stay in agriculture for a certain number of years, but they could eventually work in other industries. So if you have a choice of working in any industry, why would you go to work on the farm? But, in this instance, you would adversely affect other American jobs,” said Nassif.
Nassif said the motivation of the Obama administration is understandable due to the inability of Congress to compromise on immigration reform, yet Nassif maintains the Immigration Reform should not be done with Executive Orders as the President has done. Instead, Nassif stressed that Congress should take up Immigration Reform and pass it.
President Obama arrived in Fresno around 2:30 pm Friday and immediately headed out to the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley to talk with farmers about the worst drought crisis in California’s history. Valley growers had high hopes that his visit would force the issue into the national arena.
California’s Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, as well as Democratic Congressman Jim Costa, were part of the entourage.
As they traveled in Marine One on an extensive air tour, they were able to see thousands of acres of fallow land that will have an enormous impact on family famers, their employees, as well as the state’s economy.
Following a closed door roundtable meeting he emerged with West Side Farmer Joe Del Bosque, praising him for his success in farming. “Joe told me that there are three things that make farming work in California: Soil, Water and People President Obama said. “And in the little free time they have Joe and his wife Maria improve the health and safety of farm workers. There are a lot of people who depend on him year-round and who depend on him seasonally, and their livelihoods depends on the functioning of these farms,” President Obama added.
The main agenda of the President’s visit was to reiterate the promise of more than $170 million in new initiatives to deal with the crisis—including $100 million for ranchers facing livestock losses.
Besides help for ranchers, other significant areas of the drought initiative includes:
$60 million for food programs serving drought-stricken communities in the Central Valley. This will be of great need for food banks throughout the Central Valley, who will have to provide food for hungry farmworkers.
$5 million in conservation assistance for the most parched areas of California. The money will help farmers and ranchers “implement conservation practices that conserve scarce water resources,” as well as reduce wind erosion.
$5 million to help communities and landowners with soil stabilization and replenishment of vegetation-stripped areas.
$3 million to help rura
l communities facing water shortages. State health officials have already identified 17 communities in 10 counties that are in danger of literally running out of water within the next three months due to zero water allocations.
“President Obama and I will continue to do everything within our power to support California farmers, ranchers and families living in drought-stricken areas,” said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture on Thursday in a phone interview. “This assistance, coupled with other aid being made available across government, should provide some relief during this difficult time.”
“Thanks to the newly-signed Farm Bill, we are now able to offer long-awaited livestock disaster assistance, which will provide needed stability for California livestock producers impacted by drought,” said Vilsack.
California’s Congressional Republican Comment
California Congressmen David Valadao, Devin Nunes, and Kevin McCarthy issued the following statements today in reaction to President Obama’s remarks on the California water crisis:
“The President missed a prime opportunity today,” said Rep. Valadao. “As farmers, farm workers and communities in the San Joaquin Valley suffer, this Administration has chosen handouts and a climate change lecture over real solutions. We feed the world and all we ask for is a reliable, clean water supply. I will remind the President that my constituents are part of the environment too, and the lack of a long-term solution could spell economic and social destruction for the Central Valley.”
“To blame the California water crisis on global warming is ludicrous,” Rep. Nunes said. “The state has an incredible irrigation system designed to supply water through five years of drought. But as a result of excessive regulations and lawsuits by environmental extremists, we cannot fully use this system, and billions of gallons of water have been flushed into the ocean that could have supplied drought-stricken farmers and communities. Invoking global warming shows ignorance of California’s irrigation system and of basic math and engineering. President Obama could have taken the lead in solving this crisis, but he is apparently more concerned with placating his radical environmentalist allies.”
“The President’s decision to use his visit to California as an opportunity to launch a massive spending initiative to explore the impacts of climate change will simply leave California Central Valley communities dry,” said Rep. McCarthy. “Unfortunately, nothing the President proposed today changes the underlying issue that our communities are not receiving the water they have contracted and paid for; thus exacerbating the impacts of the current and future droughts.
House Republicans on the other hand are continuing to work to find a bipartisan, bicameral solution to ensure our communities are not crippled by future droughts. We look forward to coming together with the Senate to find areas of common ground and commonsense to finally achieve a solution that allows desperately needed water to flow in our state.”