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Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

Let the debate begin. I guess we can’t say elections don’t matter. Republicans lost 70% of the Latino vote in last fall’s election. Suddenly, Republican leadership and Democrat leadership have joined together to push for comprehensive immigration reform. Maybe the Republicans don’t have a “tin year.” Six years ago, Conservatives killed a President George W. Bush plan to deal with our immigration problem. Now it appears we may have a chance to get this done.

Leading the charge for change is a team of Senate leaders, including: Senator John McCain (R-AZ); Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY); Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL); Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO); Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL); and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Also, House Speaker John Boehner is supportive of the effort. Sounds like it’s a done deal. But, of course, it’s not.

There is still a lot of opposition. In 2007, President Bush tried to push through legislation. However, at that time, the Congress could not accept the idea of giving illegal lawbreakers a path to citizenship. I understand that argument, but we have 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. now. Many have been here for generations. Some came here as children. More children have been born here. They work hard, in the fields on farms, milking the cows, building the houses, butchering the hogs. They are doing work that no one else wants to do.

If they have a clean criminal record, it’s time we gave them legal status. The bipartisan group that put together this framework to fix the problem said it would be a “tough but fair” route to citizenship. They have been living in the shadows too long.

The legislation will insist on a more effective job of closing the border.

President Obama supports immigration reform. However, be aware that the “devil will be in the details.” His plan will not be the same as the Senate. The House plan will be different also. Ironing out all the differences will not be easy, but I think we have a better than 50% chance of getting something done.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.