An Agricultural Uprising Might Result in Immigration Reform

One wonders just what will get immigration reform done; it might take an agricultural uprising.

Last year was dismal for farmers thanks to a significant shortage of workers. This year doesn’t look to be much better, which is prompting many U.S. farmers to check out the federal foreign guest worker program. Ironically, this labor shortage is quite a concern for Washington farmers. So much so, that Washington’s agriculture director has been heard to say an uprising, like the civil rights agitation in the 60s, would likely get immigration reform on track and in place.

Like many others involved in agriculture in the U.S., the belief is that comprehensive immigration reform would solve the labor shortage in their sector. However, like others, the industry seems to realize that reform is more smoke and mirrors than genuine substance. Without a major upheaval, or major reform, agriculture goes into decline, and the whole nation, not to mention other countries that import U.S. goods, start to have food shortages and price increases. Immigration reform is not just about the U.S. It impacts the world in other ways.

Farm interests are ramping up to insist that reform needs to include some type of guest worker program that will let non-residents come to the U.S. legally and work in agriculture. The truth behind this story is that without itinerant workers to perform seasonal work, it does not get done. Americans, despite saying they need jobs, will not work in the fields for the current wages. Who else will do the work? Non-residents, and yet there is resistance to this type of solution.

Frankly, immigration reform has become a war of words, a heap of hopes and a dismal pile of broken promises and dreams. Political gurus are indicating it is highly unlikely any kind of reform will be attempted in this election. What is even more disappointing is that these same government watchers don’t see any movement in 2013 either. So where will that leave the nation? Who knows, other than in the same boat it is in right now?

Part of the prevailing problem with a worker shortage in the agricultural sector is that people do not understand that without workers, the whole industry founders. The other side of that issue is people focus on wanting secure borders, no more illegal aliens and for the illegal trafficking in drugs and guns to stop. It’s rather short-sighted to only focus on one part of the immigration problem, say border security, when the spin offs are far greater than just securing the border.

Overall, the only solution is the political will to just get immigration reform done. That is obviously lacking and in the meantime, a sluggish economy is also impeding the implementation of government programs. Two strikes and people are looking for the third, in the skeptical manner of those who have been there, done that and don’t believe or trust a thing the government says. This hardly bodes well for immigration reform being achieved.

The revolving door of immigration reform will continue to flounder until someone, somehow figures a way to pull the economy out of the toilet. Given what is going on right now, it seems unlikely these issues will be addressed anytime soon.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit

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