Last year Alabama and Georgia enacted tough immigration laws. And in both states the result was a shortage of workers to harvest crops. As a result, there was a legislative attempted last month to repeal the Georgia law, and there are indications that the Alabama legislature may take a second look at its law. Businesses and particularly farmers in both states have felt the impact of the laws which left them watching their crops perish because there simply were not enough workers available.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held its third hearing on the agriculture industry’s complaints about existing immigration laws and its calls for more agricultural guest workers.
Committee leaders from both parties agreed with industry witnesses that the U.S. should import more agricultural guest workers. The Chairman, Elton Gallegly stated there were not enough U.S. workers willing to do the job. “This is a critical issue to the U.S. agriculture industry because… there are simply not enough Americans willing to work as migrant farm workers.” He said. Ms. Zoe Lofgren, a member of the Subcommittee called for an amnesty for illegal alien farm workers already in the country. She asked out loud “How can anyone think that the answer to our labor needs is to deport over one million agricultural workers who are already here?”
Even the usually tough Chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), called for reforms to existing guest worker programs to allow farmers greater ease in hiring foreign seasonal laborers, and aims to make changes in legislation he proposed this fall. His bill, the “American Specialty Agriculture Act” would establish a new guest worker program that would expand the scope of the program to include all agricultural work, not just seasonal work now covered by the program.
Administration appoints new Advocate for illegal aliens
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week the creation of a new “Public Advocate” position for illegal aliens. Senior ICE Advisor Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, who was appointed as the new advocate, will serve as a point of contact for aliens in removal proceedings, community and advocacy groups, and others who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise about the Administration’s executive amnesty efforts. (ICE Press Release, Feb. 7, 2012)
The release said that “The creation of the Public Advocate position is another milestone in ICE's ongoing work to enact significant policy changes and improvements to focus the agency's immigration enforcement resources on sensible priorities…” ICE hopes the new Advocate will improve the system by:
· Assisting individuals and community stakeholders in resolving complaints and concerns with agency policies and operations;
· Proposing changes and recommendations to fix community-identified problems and concerns;
· Alerting agency leadership to potential community stakeholder concerns with current or proposed agency policies and/or operations; and
· Maintaining a collaborative and transparent dialogue with community stakeholders on the agency's mission and core values.
Chairman Smith criticized the move, calling it further proof that the Obama administration puts illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of Americans. In his press release on February 7, Rep Smith said “The Obama administration’s lack of immigration enforcement allows illegal immigrants to steal jobs away from American workers and now their in-house lobbyist for illegal immigrants costs U.S. taxpayers more money.”
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