JANUARY 11, 2007
A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation that will put 1.5 million illegal immigrant farm workers and their relatives on a path to United States citizenship by granting them immediate legal residency.
Claiming that they must help provide a labor pool for the country’s multi billion-dollar agriculture industry, the lawmakers proposed a bill that will grant a so-called “blue card” to illegal immigrants (and their relatives) who have worked in agriculture for 150 days in the past two years.
California’s Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, along with
Republicans Mel Martinez of Florida and George Voinovich of Ohio proudly introduced the bill this week, claiming that there is a lobar shortage that is costing growers billions annually.
California is the nation’s biggest agriculture state with more than $34 billion in annual revenue and nearly 80,000 farms manned by roughly one million undocumented workers. The Golden State senators believe the labor shortage crisis can only be solved by legalizing the illegal. At a festive press conference touting their bill, they were joined by illegal immigration advocates from the United Farm Workers and the National Council of La Raza.
A large and powerful agriculture trade association called the Western Growers, applauded the ally senators, saying that the industry has been hurt by a growing labor shortage crisis brought about by an unworkable immigration policy. Providing legal status for farm workers, however, would provide a long term solution to the problem.
So far, no one has bothered to mention the cost to taxpayers when these workers suddenly become eligible for welfare, Medicaid and other social programs.
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