Sep 22, 2010
12:21 PMThe Wind Machine
Today, the top legislative issue in Washington, D.C., is S. 3454, the bill funding our military. While of great importance to the nation, this is a matter ordinarily not followed by agriculture. However, Majority Leader Harry Reid has injected immigration policy, specifically the DREAM Act, into this year’s appropriations debate. He seeks to amend S. 3454 by adding the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act would give certain undocumented immigrant students who have lived in our country for a long time, graduated from a high school here, and who will be going on to college—a legal status for their stay in the United States. In more calm times, this proposed law might pass without too much comment: people usually support giving a good kid a new chance in life.
These are not calm times. We have an election on November 2. Majority Leader Reid is trying to attach the DREAM Act to an unrelated but essential spending bill. Why? Many think it is because of his own political race for reelection in Nevada and the need for his political party to rally support from a significant Hispanic constituency. It fires up the party’s base.
On the other side, Republicans want to use this action by the Majority Leader as an example of the failure of the Administration to control the borders and an enticement to further illegal entry. It is being painted as a form of amnesty. Voters hate amnesty.
The upshot for agriculture is that comprehensive immigration reform is now dead for the 111th Congress. AgJOBS, a legislative attempt, supported by most in agriculture, to resolve the delimina of obtaining a legal and adequate workforce for the harvest labor needs of our farmers, is also at the coroner’s office.
And any reasonable solutions for agriculture within this polarizing national debate probably will not be obtainable until well after the next presidential election.