Immigration proposals get local high marks
Civil rights advocate, farm bureau praise plan
A local civil rights advocate said Tuesday she was pleased with proposals to offer citizenship to millions of illegal residents in the United States.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama offered support and a few additions to a plan announced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Monday.
The separate White House and Senate proposals focus on the same principles: providing a way for most of the estimated 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally to become citizens, strengthening border security, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and streamlining the legal immigration system.
A component of the Senate proposal includes allowing more low-skill and agricultural workers in the U.S. to increase a dwindling labor force available to agriculture.
For Teresa de la Rosa, the director of advocacy for OLA RAZA in Porterville who was including in a conference call to the White House with companies like IBM and the Farm Bureau, it addressed all of their issues.
“My reaction is very positive. It really contained all the issues we are concerned with. The first is the Pathway to Citizenship,” said de la Rosa. Under the plan children who are brought here illegally by their parents are eligible for citizenship via an expedited opportunity, such as going to college or honorably serving in the military for at least two years.
“I’m also elated. It does contain a provision to the Dreamers. They will be entitled to a ‘fast track’. This is something the kids deserve. It’s time,” said de la Rosa.
Though she was full of praise, she did have some reservations. One addressed the requirement that those applying for residency have to learn English.
“What I understand based on what I read, in order to get residency they have to learn English. Some folks are not able to learn English. Are they going to be able to learn English at 50, 60, 70?” said de la Rosa. Another issue she had was with the availability of English classes.
The California Farm Bureau was pleased by the ag workers proposal.
“We’re encouraged that our elected officials acknowledge the immigration issues that face the nation and in particular farmers and their employees, and that immigration reform will be a priority this year,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said in a press release. “Farmers struggle to hire enough domestic employees, so they rely on foreign employees willing to harvest America’s food. Many of the people who tend to the food we eat are not properly documented. Reform of immigration laws should secure our borders and allow immigrants who are contributing to our communities to work in farming.”
Wenger said he is pleased that the plan announced today includes a pledge to secure the border while crafting a workable immigration program for agriculture. He noted that in an online survey conducted by Farm Bureau last year, California farmers and ranchers described continuing problems in finding enough people to take on-farm jobs.