Immigration Bill May Hinge on Farm Politicians

The recently proposed immigration reform bill that finally reached the floor of Congress earlier this week may hinge on support from rural politicians.
For the past several years, farmers have found their political power on the decline. Despite pulling out all the stops, farmers were unable to pass a five-year farm bill last summer and were forced to watch helplessly as the House stalled the bill for months, allowing it to die in committee rather than holding a floor vote.
In tandem with this political decline is an increasing decline in the amount of available farm labor. Despite supporting work visa reform, many farmers saw immigrant labor scared off by increasingly hostile immigration laws passed in a number of states. The lack of labor may jeopardize farmers’ economic strength at the same time that their political power in waning.
The recent immigration reform bill, however, appears to be on a road to success as farm interests (such as work visa reform) have merged with immigrant rights advocates pushing for expanded access to citizenship.
The proposed immigration reform bill may hinge on how much supports farmers can mobilize in agricultural districts. A significant portion of Republican votes may come from agricultural communities, who desperately want immigration reform, allowing for the possibility of bipartisan support in the House.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer