[RECORDING]Midwestern Agricultural Employers, Farmworkers, Dreamers, and Business Leaders tell Congress: Pass Immigration Solutions That Expand Our Workforce NOW
The Crapo-Bennet Senate companion bill to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act; the Durbin-Graham DREAM Act; and the SECURE Act would keep farms open, provide Midwestern businesses the employees they need to thrive, and keep families together.
Link to recording here: https://bit.ly/2Vcumpk
Grand Rapids, MI – Today, agricultural employers, farmworkers, Dreamers, and business leaders from across the Midwest joined the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) for a virtual event called Expanding the Midwest’s Workforce Through Common Sense Immigration Reform. Click here for a link to the recording.
Speakers called attention to the devastating economic impact of the labor shortage facing Midwestern farmers and companies, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and the enormous contribution by farm workers and essential workers to help our nation recover and rebuild They urged their Senators to pass the Durbin-Graham DREAM Act, the SECURE Act, and the Crapo-Bennet Senate companion bill to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Collectively, they delivered the clear message that whether through a bipartisan deal or through reconciliation, inaction is not an option in 2021.
See below for highlights of the event:
Sam Scott, Co-Chair, American Business Immigration Coalition; Former Chairman, Ingredion Incorporated: “The pandemic laid bare the essential need for immigration reform. Seventy-two percent of the essential workers during the pandemic were immigrants. We rely on them every day to rebuild and recover…There are three pieces of legislation we want to see move forward – the Durbin-Graham DREAM Act, the Crapo-Bennet Senate companion bill to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, and the SECURE Act for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status. These common sense solutions must be achieved either through bipartisanship or reconciliation in 2021.”
Steve Obert, Executive Director, Indiana Dairy Producers: “We’re wanting to fix something that’s been broken for more than thirty years. It’s critical that we pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. For my industry and for my family, I see this really simply as good business policy with a conscience.”
Dr. Jane Fernandes, Former President, Guilford College, and incoming president for a member college of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration in Ohio: “The Presidents’ Alliance and the chancellors and presidents that we represent are as committed as ever to securing a permanent legislative roadmap to citizenship for our nation’s Dreamers…We’re asking the Senate to move forward immediately on the legislation for Dreamers, either through a bipartisan framework, or if necessary, budget reconciliation.”
Chris Alpers, Incoming Chair, US Apple; Operations Manager, Redpath Orchards, (Leelanau County, MI): “I would call on the Senate, including my senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, to follow the House’s lead and pass bipartisan legislation now. Without access to a stable workforce, growers like me will continue to struggle to prioritize reinvesting in our businesses and expanding them because of the risks associated with no labor.”
Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce: “The labor struggles that our chamber members are facing… is the top issue that we’re hearing across the economy. Immigration is key to the growth of our communities…We’ve been talking about immigration reform for my entire time on this planet and it’s time to get something done. It’s not just the smart thing to do for the economy, it’s the right thing to do for individuals.”
Derek Ahl, Partner, Northern Family Farms (Merrillan, WI): “I encourage Sen. Ron Johnson to support the Senate version of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act here in Wisconsin and hope it does move forward because we do need help bringing common sense reform to the H-2A program and other areas of immigration in the U.S.”
Sofia Ocampo, Undocumented DREAMer, TheDream.US Scholar (Indianapolis): “It’s very important… for undocumented immigrants to have a pathway to citizenship because we do want to contribute to this country, and we do want to further our careers and do so many things but we have so many limits put on us.”
Guadalupe Perales, Michigan Director, UFW Foundation: “A path to citizenship for farm workers would improve their rights, their health, and wellbeing. It would stabilize not just our agriculture workforce, but the entire U.S. food economy… Polls indicate the American public supports legislation that allows farmworkers to apply for legal status. Both Democrat and Republican voters support a pathway to citizenship … We urge the Senate to act… to protect farmworkers from deportation… Action is needed this year.”
Background: The bipartisan Crapo-Bennet Senate companion bill to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would stabilize the current and future agricultural workforce by modernizing H-2A visas and providing undocumented farmworkers and their immediate family members legal immigration status and a path to citizenship. The bipartisan Durbin-Graham DREAM Act and the SECURE Act would bring immediate solutions to families living in limbo and businesses struggling to find workers across industries by providing, respectively, a path to legalization for immigrants brought to the United States as children and recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
Event cosponsors included AmericanHort, Hughes Nursery and Landscaping, Willoway Nurseries, Inc., Vidal Plastics LLC., Forrest Keeling Nursery, Hughes Nursery and Landscaping, Northern Family Farms, theDREAM.us, The Libre Initiative, US Apple, Northern Family Farms, Wisconsin Restaurant Association, UFW Foundation, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.
The American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens.