Several Key Industry Associations Urge Immigration Reform

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday urged Congress and the Administration to work together to enact immigration reform in order to drive job creation and economic growth.

The call came as part of the national ‘Day of Action’, which included events in Washington D.C. along with 25 other states.

Several key agricultural and economic industry groups also supported the proposal, including the Western Growers Association, Partnership for a New American Economy, American Farm Bureau Federation and AmericanHort.

The national press conference in the U.S. capital featured leading business association CEOs discussing the critical need for new legislation.

There was also a range of coordinated events throughout the country with state farm bureaus, local businesses and state representatives which aimed to show immigration laws in the business community needed to be modernized across industries, sectors and geographies.

In a release, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said he strongly believed improvements were needed and he would continue to make the case for them.

“While our lawmakers are deadlocked on this issue, business leaders are more determined than ever to fix our immigration system,” Donohue said.

“We need meaningful immigration reform to revitalize our economy and to remain a nation ruled by law, guided by principle, and driven by compassion and common sense.

“We’re going to continue to make the case in the nation’s capital and in every corner of this country, and will use every tool and resource at our disposal. We’re not going to let up until the job gets done.”

Western Growers president and CEO Tom Nassif echoed Donohue’s remarks, adding many currently unauthorized immigrant workers were vital for the agricultural industry.

“The effect of inaction on immigration reform is devastating to the fresh produce industry and consumers. We rely on people to plant and harvest the nutritious and domestic supply of food for Americans and for export,” Nassif said.

“Many of these workers are unauthorized, but are willing and able to do the work. It’s been demonstrated many times that Americans won’t work in the fields, so why won’t our elected officials provide us the means to have a legal, reliable workforce?

If no solution is provided, production will continue to move overseas along with the jobs agriculture supports in rural communities across America.”

American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman also said the current laws were outdated and changes were needed for both farmers and the economy.

“As a nation, we can’t afford to continue with an immigration system we’ve long outgrown and is working more and more against our overall national interest,” he said.

“We urge Congress and the Administration to work together and with us to achieve real immigration reform that addresses the needs of farmers, the economy, as well as the country’s need for border security.”


Farmers for Immigration Reform


The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, Western United Dairymen, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and more than 70 of the largest American agriculture groups this week joined with the Partnership for a New American Economy to launch #ifarmimmigration, an agriculture campaign to support renewed efforts to enact immigration reform this year.


Farmers across the country depend on temporary labor to help grow their crops and their business. Immigrants help fill those vital positions, creating additional 2-3 jobs for domestic-born workers up and down the economy in food packaging, shipping or farming supplies. For many farms across the country, there are simply not enough native-born workers to work their fields.


The agriculture campaign will stress the agriculture sector’s critical need for immigration reform with activities online and on the ground, in Washington D.C. and in key Congressional districts. The month started with a Capitol Hill briefing on Feb 5, where Congressional staff heard from farmers and ranchers about the need for immigration reform. Throughout the month, the campaign will release new research on labor shortages while farmers and ranchers will be on the ground telling their stories through farm tours, social and traditional media, videos, and community events for members of Congress in their districts.


American Farm Bureau’s Bob Stallman commented, “Unfortunately, because of a labor shortage in our farm fields, there’s a growing crisis about the future of our food supply.”


Stallman continued:

“In that spirit, throughout the month of February, farmers across the country, in conjunction with the Partnership for the New American Economy, will be using a slightly different spin to show consumers and lawmakers just how important immigration reform is to our food system. The truth is, we either import our labor or we import our food.”


“America’s farmers and ranchers need a balanced immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision. We are encouraged by the House Republican Conference’s commitment to moving forward on immigration reform this year with the release of their immigration ‘standards.’ The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the House using these principles as guideposts and, specifically, we appreciate the recognition that agriculture’s need for a legal and stable workforce must be addressed.”


“But much work remains and farmers will continue to work toward passage of responsible immigration reform legislation that includes an earned adjustment for experienced, undocumented agricultural workers and a new, flexible guest worker program.”


This effort joins The Partnership for a New American Economy, which brought together more than 500 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reform as a way of creating jobs for Americans today.