KIFI Top Story

Ag. groups call for immigration reform

Calls for Immigration Reform

POCATELLO, Idaho - Agriculture groups from across the country are calling for support as they push for immigration reform during a press conference held at the nation's capitol at three o'clock on Wednesday afternoon.

The Idaho Farm Bureau is one of the many groups asking congress to ease the "red tape" on allowing immigrants to come in and work on local farms.

Farm Bureau's John Thompson said several groups are asking for an agricultural work force that can be regulated but can also work for farmers and ranchers across the state, and feel right now, they just don't have that.

"All we are saying is, 'hey, just give us a program that works,'" Thompson said. "The H-2A program has some strengths and weaknesses, but right now it needs reform."

The H-2A Agricultural Guest Worker Program allows migrant workers seasonal permission to work on farms.

But, Thompson said the program is full of delays and it takes too long for farmers and ranchers to get people across the border during those tight windows of time farmers have to plant or harvest.

"The farmers who use that program have found a way to work around it, but they can't afford it and say there is too much red tape. It's too bureaucratic and too hard for those workers to travel back and forth," Thompson added.

Thompson understands how the issue has been divisive, often times drawing a clear line between political parties, saying one of the most controversial points of this topic has been whether or not these workers should earn legal status and the Farm Bureau believes these workers should be allowed some degree of citizenship if they can maintain a job, work for a prolonged period of time, and stay out of trouble. 

"These jobs are arduous, they are seasonal, and they are a lot of our migratory jobs that people who live here do not want. We depend on those workers and we need them here," Thompson said.

He added, a study done about five years ago by the University of Idaho shows that upward of 80% of the dairy industry workers are migrant workers.

comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular Stories

Top Stories