Democrats continue to get stuff done in Congress, and this week a few Republicans stopped staging political theater for the morally bankrupt White House and voted to help. On Wednesday, the House approved the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would make it easier for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who help grow America’s food to stay and work in this great nation:
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the bill’s sponsor, said that it was a “historic” compromise and example of bipartisanship. “This bill is a compromise, it’s not exactly what I would have written but it does stabilize the workforce,” she said on the House floor. “We have farmworkers who have been here for a very long time without their papers, living in fear and in some cases being arrested and deported.” “We need to allow them to get an agricultural visa that is temporary and renewable so they can do the work we need them to do and their employers need them to do,” she said. “We need to stabilize the H-2A program, which this bill does. It simplifies it and also stabilizes wages” [Adam Shaw, “House Passes Farm Bill That Critics Says Grants ‘Large-Scale Amnesty’ to Illegal Immigrants,” Fox News, 2019.12.12].
34 Republicans joined 226 Democrats in voting for this ag-immigration reform bill. South Dakota’s lone Congressman, Dusty Johnson, was not among those problem-solvers. I can’t imagine why our man Dusty would oppose the interests of over 300 farm producer and labor groups who recognize they need foreign labor to keep up with all the agricultural demand from our domestic eaters and our bedraggled but still hungry trade partners. One would think that, when our state feels it must bribe counties to open their doors to giant meat and milk factories, our leaders would leap at the chance to help CAFOs and other ag-industrial operations sustain a reliable, long-term workforce.
The Republican Senate has given no signal that it shares the House’s interest in putting together some bipartisan support in favor of passing the Farm Modernization Workforce Act and making the troubled ag economy more stable. But Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse of Washington says his conversations with the usually immigrant-hating White House give him hope that the bill can pass:
“The president has indicated strong support for doing something in this area,” said Newhouse. “I talked to him personally a couple of weeks ago and he was very supportive of the general idea.”
Newhouse also told McClatchy he had spoken to Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who has been working for months on an immigration overhaul proposal.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, another chief negotiator on the legislation, said it could resonate with Trump because the president has been “very, very aggressive, very passionate” about helping farmers.
“This is the only game in town that has a chance to get to the Senate that deals with an issue that is critical to farmers,” the Florida Republican said [Emma Dumain, “Are Republicans Ready to Tackle Immigration Legislation? A House Vote Signals Maybe,” McClatchy, 2019.12.11].
After a hard year of abuse from real gods and the fake one they put in the White House, perhaps farmers will get some relief in the form of this ag-labor immigration reform from Senators John Thune, Mike Rounds, and the Republican majority in the Senate.