Immigration Laws In Need Of Overhaul

Immigration Laws In Need Of Overhaul

Let’s not quibble over semantics. Our nation’s immigration laws are broken. They remind me of a rusty truck with broken windows, propped up on crumbling cinder blocks in an overgrown back yard. No engine, no tires and out of gas.

By now, I believe everyone agrees our immigration laws are outdated and don’t work. If they did, there would be legal avenues for those who want to come here to work in jobs Americans are unavailable or unwilling to do–at any price. It literally takes years to get a valid visa to work legally in the United States. By keeping America’s front door closed to economic migrants, our lawmakers have left them no choice but to slip through our backdoor. Frankly, our broken immigration system is not good for anyone.

Labor Pains

It’s one of the worst-kept secrets: labor-intensive industries like ours have a disproportionate share of workers without proper documentation. Is it the employer’s fault their workers are not legal? Employers are tired of being forced to look over their shoulders for fear of enforcement actions. Yet, this has not stopped the Obama administration from announcing new guidelines directing immigration agents to target employers who hire illegal immigrants rather than simply going after undocumented employees.
 
These are truly anxious times. I want our border patrol focused on apprehending drug dealers, criminal smugglers, violent gang members and would-be terrorists. Being forced to divert limited resources to catch those whose only “crime” is a genuine desire to work is making us less safe. Let’s face it, most immigrant workers share our American values: individual initiative, freedom and family.
 
Either our food will be produced by illegal foreign workers here or our food will be produced by foreign workers abroad. I don’t know about you, but I believe food safety and keeping agricultural production in the United States is a national security issue.

Shifting Gears

It’s time our lawmakers embrace the AgJOBS principles of immigration reform: (1) improvements to the H-2A agriculture guest-worker program; (2) a permanent rise in the annual cap of H-2B guest workers used by landscape firms; and (3) a path by which qualified workers here now can continue to work and contribute to a recovering American economy.
 
A true guest-worker program can be effective in securing our border. It can relieve the specter of enforcement against employers who genuinely want a legal workforce. Without a guest-worker program, illegal numbers will continue to grow, and that’s not good for anyone. 
 
After six tumultuous years and last November’s political sea change, the AgJOBS legislation is amazingly still intact. With its expansive base of strong grower and worker advocate support, I believe AgJOBS can pass on its own merit or as part of a more comprehensive immigration reform package.
 
It’s time Congress and the White House do the right thing, in the right way, for all of the right reasons: pass meaningful immigration reform. Let’s tow our old jalopy of immigration laws to the auto body shop for the overhaul employers and workers deserve.

Leave a Reply

More From Labor...

August 4, 2015

New 2015 California Spring Trial Edibles For The Patio And Garden

If you are looking to capitalize on the foodie trend and spread your risk beyond Spring sales, new vegetables showcased at 2015 California Spring Trials offer plenty of opportunities to focus on unique, flavorful vegetables and edible plants that also hold ornamental value. Here are a few of new varieties Editor Laura Drotleff and Group Editor Carol Miller discovered at Spring Trials that will help diversify your crop mix.

Read More
Roots To Re-Entry’s ornamental plant nursery donates plants to local community gardens

August 4, 2015

Roots To Re-Entry Transforms Lives

An inspired employment initiative takes green-job training behind prison walls to help inmates find jobs in urban agriculture and the landscaping industry upon their release, and along the way, it is changing lives for the better. The Roots To Re-Entry (R2R) job training program, conceived by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) and its partners, does more than teach inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System the skills they need to find meaningful employment; it also teaches them invaluable life skills. The PHS staff leads participants through a 16-week course that includes hands-on projects designed to teach them horticultural skills and provide them with training in landscape maintenance and greenhouse growing. In addition to English and math, the nonprofit Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) offers supplemental courses in health education and employment preparedness. Upon inmates’ release from prison, the FNC assists R2R graduates with the transition to life outside prison walls by […]

Read More
Oso Easy Lemon Zest rose_featured

August 4, 2015

Oso Easy Lemon Zest Rose Honored With Award Of Excellence

The American Rose Society (ARS) announced at the 2015 National Conference that Proven Winners received the Award of Excellence for Oso Easy Lemon Zest rose. To receive the Award of Excellence, a rose must prove itself in six different no-spray trial locations across the U.S. This is the second Proven Winners rose to win this prestigious award; Oso Happy Petit Pink rose received the Award of Excellence in 2012. “We are thrilled to receive this award from ARS for Oso Easy Lemon Zest, as its one of our favorite roses and a top seller,” says Tim Wood, product development, Spring Meadow Nursery. “A healthy-growing, self-cleaning rose that does not fade to white has been on a lot of people’s wish list, and this award confirms that this is a very special rose.” The Oso Easy Lemon Zest rose was developed by Chris Warner, the highly acclaimed rose breeder from Shropshire, England. […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Girl on Smartphone

July 15, 2015

Keynote Curt Steinhorst Says Generational Divide A Prod…

Curt Steinhorst of The Center for Generational Kinetics kicked off Cultivate'15 with a dynamic keynote address filled with humor on how to bridge the generational gaps in the workforce and use it to your competitive advantage.

Read More
Vegetables with knife

May 14, 2015

Keeping Your Fruits And Vegetables Safe: Best Practices…

Part three of the food safety series focuses on worker hygiene, visitor policies and other biosecurity measures to safeguard the greenhouse.

Read More
american-hort-logo

April 8, 2015

AmericanHort And State Associations Advocate For Workfo…

AmericanHort, along with roughly two dozen other state association partners, joined nearly 140 organizations in a letter to the House of Representatives responding to the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.1147), which is being voted on without provisions that would ensure legal workforce options for agricultural and seasonal employers. H.R.1147 would mandate that all U.S. employers use the federal E-Verify program.

Read More
The-Capitol

March 18, 2015

H-2B Situation Goes From Bad To Even Worse

On March 5, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will no longer accept or process H-2B labor certifications or requests for H-2B prevailing wage determinations in light of a March 4 decision. Shortly after the DOL announcement, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services followed suit, announcing it will at least temporarily cease approving visa petitions. These announcements essentially shut down the H-2B program for any company that has not completed the DHS H-2B visa petitioning process.

Read More
american-hort-logo

March 4, 2015

H-2B Cap Hit, Adding to Visa Program Woes

The H-2B visa cap for the first half of fiscal 2015 was hit late in January. As a result, some growers may not have access to the H-2B workers they need during the months ahead. The visa cap and resulting labor shortages will have impacts throughout the horticulture industry.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Immigration — Obama Acts Without Congress

On November 20, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration policy, which are already proving to be politically divisive, and many Republican legislators say this unilaterally "poisons the well" for reform. In AmericanHort's view, that dire prediction need not be the case.

Read More
USDA Logo

November 17, 2014

USDA Names First Liaison For Veterans Interested In Agr…

The new Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison position will coordinate ongoing USDA support for active duty military and veterans.

Read More

September 26, 2014

GROW Perspective: Government Compliance Issues On The H…

Lack of focus on human resources can sink your ship

Read More

September 26, 2014

Great Things In Store For North Creek Nurseries

With a brand new greenhouse in the works and lean flow manufacturing boosting its bottom line, North Creek Nurseries ventures into a new era of growing for its customers.

Read More

September 11, 2014

Is Lean Flow The Competitive Edge You Need?

If you’re feeling worked to the bone, cramped for space or starved for profits, now is the time to look into lean flow.

Read More

July 22, 2014

Proposed Worker Protection Standard Changes You Need To…

The comment period for the proposed Worker Protection Standards ends on August 18, 2014. Find out how the proposed changes will affect your greenhouse operation.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

July 8, 2014

Consider Hiring Non-Traditional Growers To Secure Our I…

Your operation can benefit from hiring returning veterans, professionals changing careers and non-traditional students, in addition to horticulture graduates. Where have you had luck recruiting?

Read More
SAF Congressional Action Days 2014

February 20, 2014

Healthcare Law, Immigration Reform Are Top Priorities F…

The event, being held March 10-11 in Washington D.C., will bring together horticulture industry members to lobby members of Congress to revisit legislation that is important to the industry.

Read More
E-Verify

October 14, 2013

E-Verify Website Down During Government Shutdown

Recent visitors to the E-Verify website came face-to-face with the same message they see on other government sites: Closed.

Read More
Robin Siktberg

April 19, 2013

Speaking With One Voice On Immigration Reform (Opinion)

I am from a family that holds widely divergent political views that are hotly debated at gatherings. My mother was once chairwoman of our county’s Republican committee, and my father cast his first presidential vote for for Franklin Roosevelt. My husband and I have agreed not to put political signs in our yard — ever — because they would just cancel each other out. You get the picture. So, it was with a great deal of interest that I attended the Society of American Florists (SAF) Congresssional Action Days in March to see government in action. I’d been to Washington before, but only as a bystander, never as a participant. Despite the cliffs and sequesters, I still believe the process works — maybe not as well as we’d like right now, but more than ever, we, as citizens, need to make our voices heard. The briefings before the event and […]

Read More

April 16, 2013

Agriculture Agrees on Immigration Package

The struggle to achieve immigration reform took a giant step forward late Friday, when an agreement was finally reached on the framework for agriculture’s portion of the comprehensive immigration bill. The Senate “Gang of Eight” is drafting the bill, which may be introduced as early as Tuesday. “Society of American Florist (SAF) members who attended Congressional Action Days (CAD) and helped lobby for immigration reform can feel proud of their work,” says SAF’s Lin Schmale. “Keeping Congressional attention focused on floriculture’s needs will continue to be of critical importance. We are delighted that the negotiators have reached agreement, and commend them on achieving what is truly a great success!” After weeks of often very intense negotiations, agreement was reached Friday between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), of which SAF is a member, the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the key senators involved in the process, on the details of agriculture’s […]

Read More

March 7, 2013

Anyone Can Automate [opinion]

Automation of production lines and greenhouses is typically thought of as something that is only an option for bigger growers, but that's not necessarily the case. Greenhouse Grower presents some realistic automation options for every size of operation.

Read More

February 22, 2013

Common Objections To Mechanization In The Greenhouse

The first thing I would say about automation is start somewhere. Even if you go with any type of sprinkler or overhead irrigation system that is stationary and not a boom system, start somewhere. Get your feet wet. Get comfortable with the fact that you are starting to rely more on machines and not people. One of the biggest hurdles we have is with small and medium size growers. They will say, “It’s going to make my growers lazy.” My response to that is, “At the end of the day, that’s a management problem. That’s not an equipment problem.” What you need to worry about when you get new machinery is making sure everyone understands why you are buying machinery. If the boom systems or any automated overhead irrigation systems are making your growers lazy, that’s not because of the grower. That’s because the grower is worried about his job. […]

Read More