Working on Immigration Reform One Piece at a Time

US Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina is in the state this week talking agricultural and other businesses about the H2B and other guest worker programs and worker shortages.  Tillis outlines what he hopes to learn from the business owners he’s spending time with:

“We are trying to get a definitive answer to see which visas they have already issued or which applications they have granted that have not been used, so we can see if there is capacity to help take the pressure off the worker shortage that is only a few weeks away. We have been promised this information just about every day but haven’t seen anything.”

Several large sectors of the American economy, not just agriculture, have been lobbying for immigration and guest worker reform, and Tillis agrees that we’re no closer than we were five years ago:

“This is one of the true examples of bipartisan failure. In states like NC, where we have the economy moving in the right direction, there are certain jobs being left unfilled and it’s a threat to the ag industry. We are talking about legal immigration and granting work visas where we cannot find Americans to fill these jobs.”

Several ideas have been floated regarding guest worker reform as a part of immigration reform, and Tillis feels fixing the problems that most urgent first might be a better approach:

“I think we need some of the mistakes are trying to do everything at once. We need to deal with some of the immediate problems like worker shortages and make the problem over time reduced in size. In the past the bill takes a life of its own and there is contention and nothing gets done.”

It’s been said that many migrant workers want to come to the States, work, then return to their home country.  Tillis says this is probably the case in many instances:

“The immigration policy should ensure that the American worker has the first choice for these jobs, but many will still not be filled. Then you develop a policy to make sure we are not losing economic opportunities just because we don’t have the workers to fill jobs.”

Tillis closed with these thoughts:

“I think that we need to step up and lead. The problem has gotten worse. This is difficult and tough to understand and it’s a contentious subject. But we need to fix it.”

Congressman Thom Tillis from North Carolina.


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.