House Ag Committee Chair Talks Immigration and Migrant Labor Reform

House Ag Committee Chair Talks Immigration and Migrant Labor Reform

mike conawayDuring a congressional roundtable on Wednesday for farm broadcasters in Washington DC, several topics were  introduced by ag lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, one was immigration reform.  Chair of the House Ag Committee Mike Conaway, republican from Texas:

“I don’t know that we are making a lot of progress on a very meaningful issue. The President has not engaged in a way that helps and any kind of a tough policy that the country faces you must have leadership out of the White House that we are not getting.”

And Conaway lays the lack of progress on immigration reform squarely at the feet of the president:

“A rational person would have said in November when the Republicans took the Senate and strengthened their hand in the House, ok put a bill on my desk within a period of time. That would have been a better way to handle it. Instead he launched his Amnesty program. So he has poisoned the water on the issue.”

In response to Southern Farm Network’s question of seasonal migrant labor, Conaway had this:

“The one issue that is very concerning to ag labor, is whatever we do with e-verify, the ag worker program is feathered together so that you don’t have a cliff where you put in e-verify and then flushes all of those employees out of the system. We need to transition to a program where if you are here legally you can work but if you are here illegally then you cant work.”

Conaway also addressed the issue of ‘touch back’ for seasonal workers:

“The less bells and whistles we put on the ag worker program the better. If these workers have a card that will allow them to legally cross the border they will do that and touch back with their season of work.”

Conaway had this final thought on the migrant worker issue of immigration reform:

“I don’t think you need a big verification program on whether or not you are surplanting American workers, its clear that Americans don’t want those jobs.”

Mike Conaway, Chairman of the US House Ag Committee