This editorial by Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers recently first appeared online in the Arizona Republic: We have been through several phases on immigration and border security reform. There was a period when talk of a “comprehensive” plan was a non-starter. While things have changed, there are thoughtful people who still dispute reform.
A majority, including many of our representatives in Washington think a solution can be found. For the first time in decades, across the country there are any number of business, faith based, labor, advocacy and rights groups in coalition and cross-coalitions working for change.
I will not go through all of the reasons to convince you on this issue. By now you either agree or disagree. There is a critical mass moving to comprehensive reform, but break-out policy remains stalled. One reason is partisan divisiveness, but this business is also complex. My preference is to not think of this as “comprehensive,” but rather a “complete” view, as the parts need to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
What are the parts? In order to achieve something complete and bring together bi-partisan support, we must address in some fashion: visa reform, legal work status for those without proper authorization, border security, a permanent solution for the Dreamers and some real opportunity downstream for those without permanent status to achieve it. And of course, with all of the requirements, triggers and other regulations.
You cannot make it pass in Washington and you cannot make it work in this country without all of the pieces. Will it work magnificently? No. But we have the technology, and if we have the will, Congress can create the requirements to move towards rendering some of these issues as generational problems. We can put some of this behind us, and I suspect some of it will need periodic re-visiting.
However imperfectly, and admittedly without enough bi-partisan support, these pieces came together in the Senate. I have lost track of all of the reasons advanced, from both sides of the aisle, as to why the Senate bill is bad. To all of this my response is: “…it’s a start…just fix it!” The Senate, to its credit, took its best shot.
If it takes the House to pass this in pieces to find its way, then let’s get on with it, so the Senate and the House can reconcile their combined best shot at the issue. I have little sympathy for a vacuum of leadership, who are willing to walk and talk this to death to avoid delivering political victory to this side or that. The country wins if we move forward.
And yes, I represent one of the groups that has an agenda. I presume you know your own economics, but grant me that I know mine. Moreover, agriculture sees how these pieces fit together, politically and economically for the country. I don’t have to like or appreciate all of this to understand it. Complete reform will make my world more costly for my labor and regulations, but I need to keep my trained workforce and I need access to future labor sources. And if employers are to be a part of the enforcement solution, they need the visa tools to assist with the work.
I think a lot of this is just about people, employers and employees. No one should have to ask the government for permission to take up honest work, but the world is such that employers must also ask the government for a labor supply in an honest system. Join our Family!