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Category:  Press » Agriculture

 

Western Growers Decries Failure of Congress to Move on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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2007-06-30 07:56:57     
Western Growers Association

Officials with Western Growers today expressed their extreme disappointment and outrage over the failure of Congress to move forward with critically needed national immigration reform. The comments came in the wake of a 46-53 vote by the U.S. Senate on cloture which essentially killed chances for comprehensive immigration reform this year. The vote was seen as a blow for the agriculture industry and the entire nation.

"America's immigration system is in disarray and America's farmers are among those who suffer from that most," commented Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. "Today's historic failure of leadership by some in the U.S. Senate portends a continuation of the worsening shortage of legal and reliable workers who harvest our food. Unless our legislators summon the courage to confront the realities of our labor needs, America's increasing dependence on foreign countries for our food supply will worsen. We will not give up the fight to enact responsible comprehensive immigration reform. The stakes for our nation are too high."

Western Growers has been intensely involved in the fight to bring about reforms that would fix the nation's broken immigration policy. That broken policy has been responsible in large part for a growing labor shortage within agriculture that has been estimated to be as high as thirty percent in the past two to three years. Lack of immigration reform will result in a worsening of this labor shortage.

"The fact of the matter is, this was an historic opportunity to resolve one of the most important domestic policy crises facing our nation and some members of Congress have simply let that opportunity slip away. That lack of political courage is simply astounding," said Nassif. "In many ways this issue has shown us who are true leaders in Washington and who are not. We are extremely proud that all four Senators from California and Arizona, Feinstein, Kyl, Boxer and McCain voted in favor of cloture. We are also in debt to Senator Craig of Idaho for his leadership and unrelenting support for agriculture. All have shown their genuine political courage during this critical time. On their behalf and on behalf of all in our industry who need reform -- our growers, workers, shippers and their families -- we pledge to continue this fight."

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose members grow, pack and ship ninety percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and seventy five percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation's fresh produce.

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