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.