Peoria Public Radio News
1:45 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Sec. of Agriculture urges passage of immigration reform

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is calling on lawmakers to approve comprehensive immigration reform when they return to Washington next month. Tom Vilsack says doing nothing could negatively impact the agriculture sector, its workforce, and rural communities.

Vilsack says many farmers are decreasing operations and in some cases, moving their businesses out of the country because the U.S. lacks a fixed immigration system.

“The state of Illinois, it could cause a loss of anywhere from 46-million to 83-million dollars in short-term agricultural production losses which translates not only to less farm income, but also to fewer jobs. Because if Americans are not capable of producing all that they are capable of producing, we lose export opportunities as well and their jobs connected to exports.”

Vilsack says members of the House should approve the Senate’s version of an immigration reform bill. The measure creates an earned pathway to citizenship where those living in the country illegally would pay fines and back taxes to stay in the U.S. The measure also creates a new temporary worker program.