Immigration reform takes Texas-sized courage

By Gene Hall

Last week I was in Washington, D.C., and had the pleasure of interviewing U.S. Representative John Carter, who represents the 31st District of Texas. Congressman Carter, along with fellow Texas Congressman Sam Johnson, is working hard on the U.S. House version of an immigration reform bill for our country.

It takes some Texas-sized courage to stick your neck out on a heated issue like immigration reform in Congress. For agriculture, though, a legal guest worker program is the difference between harvested crops and lost opportunity. No workers in the field… No crops from the field… No food for the people.

Congressman Carter explained why a guest worker program is important to the immigration reform debate in Washington. You can watch the full video of his comments here.

“The immigration policy of this country, as far as work is concerned, started at whatever time the first worker came across the border. They came across to work in agriculture almost exclusively,” he told me. “Immigration has been a part of agriculture, not only in Texas, but in every border state. Now it’s a part of agriculture across the nation.”

Members of both the House and Senate are working out the details of an agricultural guest worker program. The idea is to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to hire willing, hard-working employees who can legally work in this country.

“Let’s be reasonable,” Carter said. “Nobody’s going to come across and risk all of that harassment if when they go to get a job, they’re not legal, and when they’re not legal, and we’re verifying them, they’re not going to get a job. That’s what will secure the border.”

Congressman Carter and Congressman Johnson understand how important guest workers are to agriculture, and they’re willing to stand up for a fair and balanced approach to a very complicated issue.

It takes a strong leader to stand up to the knee-jerk bullies in Washington. For farmers and ranchers across Texas and our country, I want to thank Congressmen Carter and Johnson for their courage.

Though, from two Texans, I’m proud to say I’m not surprised.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Responses to “Immigration reform takes Texas-sized courage”

  1. Jeanette Rost says:

    I saw statistics on illegal aliens last year: Only 2% of them end up working in the fields, despite the fact that Americans are led to believe that most of them work in the fields.

    On the other hand, 29% of them are busily collecting taxpayers’ money within a very short time of their sneaking into this country – just a couple of days, in fact.

    Illegal aliens (mostly Mexican) kill about 9,500 Americans a year – about half in auto accidents, and half in violent crime. Isn’t it odd that this is never reported? And never a flag flown at half-staff for almost 10,000 Americans killed every year?

    And, who pays for the care of these people so that farmers can have cheap labor? Does the farmer go to the emergency room and pay the bill? Does the farmer pay extra property taxes to cover the cost of educating the illegals’ children in our schools? Will the farmer go to the driver’s license office and sit in line in your place, so that you do not have to sit there for several hours? My husband had to wait for four hours earlier this year; he said that virtually everyone there appeared to be from Mexico – so will we eventually have eight-hour lines, if we double the number of Mexicans we allow to come here (or just don’t pursue deporting those who came here illegally)?

    We pay folks, and the more illegals/newly-not-illegals/”workers” we have here, the higher the bill is going to get. Doesn’t anyone prefer to spend their money on their own children, rather than on these folks’ children? (Do a search on what we spend taking care of these people every year; you will be stunned.)

    At one time I read that illegal aliens and Muslims are permanently excused from paying into Obamacare, so we will end up paying for them forever. With their birthrates, how long before a much smaller group is paying for a much larger group?

    By the way, Mexico is a VERY rich country, which could well take care of its own poor, if its Rich Elite didn’t prefer to keep all that money for themselves. Which they manage to do partly by sending their poor here for us to take care of.

    I’ve traveled the world over, and have spent a over a dozen years living in or visiting third-world counties. America, for whatever reason, your “leaders” are steadily turning you into one of those third-world countries. Importing millions of third-world people is helping them to accomplish that goal.

    Most of you won’t like living in a third-world country, I promise you.

  2. Gene Hall says:

    Thank you for posting Jeanette. Some of what you’ve read and heard is not correct, but I really don’t have the time for a point by point rebuttal. Some of what you say is true and concerning. Here are the things Farm Bureau cannot ignore. Americans are no longer interested in milking cows and picking fruit and vegetable crops. And no, farmers cannot afford to lure Americans, even if they would come, into the fields with higher wages. Farmers have no way to raise prices. I think some of the problems you address are real and have to be dealt with outside of immigration. There are two inescapable facts. Conservatives will lose a lot of elections until they find a compassionate way to deal with this issue. As a conservative, as I am, think on this. Do you want anything to do with a government big enough to find and force deport 12 million people? I do not. While I share some of your concerns, reality dictates a consensus solution. Gene

    • Mr Hall, Jeanette made many good points, even though she doesn’t know that farmers and ranchers buy Farm Bureau Liability Insurance to cover injured workers. Nor does she grasp that landowners who pay the bulk of school taxes in rural areas are directly impacted by the birth rate of their work force.

      What you are really advocating for is the continuance of the “slave” labor practices of a bygone era in Texas. As I told the president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Assn, the nostalgic days of faithful, grateful braceros are gone forever. Nowadays you’re more likely to get some fugitive fleeing from MS-13 than a humble farm worker. The drug trade has tainted the Mexican workforce.

      If you cannot see the danger of Texas losing our Right to Work status with the infusion of this new, uneducated labor force you advocate, I am at a loss. Unionized farm labor is a long term goal of the Left.

      Will Texas farmers and ranchers be able to afford unionized labor any more easily than they can afford Americans who won’t work on farms and ranches now. BTW, that paradyme is most likely about to shift. Many suburbanite cubicle dwellers are beginning to see the beauty of a simpler agrarian life.

      • Gene Hall says:

        Ms. Peterson, much of this is hyperbole. I don’t know everything, but I do know some things. This is an old post and it’s pretty much down to you and me, but here goes. It is a fact that you cannot lure Americans out of the air conditioning to do farm work at rates farmers and ranchers can pay. You speak with authority about agrarian life so you know that farmers cannot pass along the increase in labor costs that would result from that. Immigration reform also includes border security, but if you provide an avenue for legal labor you will take away much of the carrot. I am always disappointed when folks throw around the word “slave” in this debate like it would be tolerated in this country. Immigration reform deals with willing workers and willing employers at – at least – the US minimum wage. If we do not meet agriculture’s need for labor, some parts of US agriculture will move off these shores to somewhere else. Fruits and veggies, dairy and other labor intensive crops will eventually no longer be produced here. I don’t think the country wants that.

        • Gene Hall says:

          As a conservative, I recognize this as one of the issues that major political parties must address, or else. The alternative is to lose a lot of elections.

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