WGA Conflicted on SCOTUS DACA Decision

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.”

Western Growers logoNassif 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.

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Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers Association is frustrated with the lack of immigration reform. “In 2013, we finally got a bill passed in the United States Senate. The reason we got it passed in the Senate is because we supported the pathway to citizenship; the other things we could work out,” Nassif said.

Tom Nassif
Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers Association

“However, in the United States House of Representatives,” Nassif continued, “they didn’t want a pathway to citizenship. They weren’t even sure if they wanted a pathway to legalization,” he noted.

“Most people didn’t even want a border security bill coming to the floor for a vote in the House because they didn’t want any immigration reform—whatsoever,” said Nassif. “They were part of that ‘send them home crowd.’ Anything you did, even if it was putting them on probation or fining themwhatever we didwas still considered amnesty. That is not amnesty. What we have today is amnesty because we’re not doing anything about it,” he argued.

Nassif had a mixed opinion on the recent Supreme Court of the United States’ 4-4 ruling against President Obama regarding his expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). “In a way, it disappointed us; in a way, it didn’t,” Nassif commented.

Western Growers logo“The reason it didn’t disappoint us is because there was no requirement that the people working in agriculture who might qualify for DACA or DAPA would remain in agriculture. Under the Senate bill, to get a pathway, you had to stay in agriculture for a certain number of years. In this case, they could have gone to work in any industry. If you have the choice of working in industry, why would you work on the farm? The choice adds adversity and affects other American jobs,” said Nassif.

Immigration reform should not be done by executive order, according to Nassif, as President Obama was trying to do. “It should be done by the legislature. They have the responsibility and the duty to pass immigration reform,” he said.