Republicans were divided Wednesday over how to respond to President Barack Obama ’s plan to unilaterally change the immigration system, splitting over whether to force a fight during the lame-duck session or wait until next year when they control both chambers of Congress. The plan announced this week would lift the threat of deportation for at least 250,000 undocumented farm workers, says Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers union in an article on Reuters, and expand a program that gives safe harbor from deportation to young people brought into the U.S. illegally as children.
"We were pleased to learn that at least 250,000 farm workers (and at least 125,000 California farm workers) will be eligible for deportation relief under this executive action," Rodriguez said in a statement. The union held a "mock Thanksgiving feast" in front of the White House on Wednesday, the union said. "The president committed to working with UFW to do everything possible to make sure that every farm worker who qualifies for the program gets enrolled," Rodriguez said.
Some conservative Republicans are clamoring to use a December budget deadline as leverage in the immigration fight, by tying a rollback of the new policies to continuing government funding beyond its Dec. 11 expiration. That risks a potential government shutdown, which GOP leaders have vowed to avoid.
Others believe a market-based agricultural worker program is needed. An opinion piece in the Washington Times states that with the midterm elections over, policymakers setting the agenda for the next Congress should keep in mind one important fact: “America’s immigration system needs work.
This is a statement that most Americans and, in particular, most of America’s farmers and ranchers, can heartily agree with. Inaction in Washington has brought us to this point, and it will take action from our elected leaders to start us on the path to a solution.
“For many in agriculture, the biggest challenge they face is finding the workers they need to run their farms and ranches,” continued the editorial. “After all, it does not matter what Mother Nature throws at you if you do not have people to help pick crops or care for animals through good years and bad.”