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Immigration and Farm Labor Changes Ahead?

Whether your farm or ranch depends directly on immigrant labor or not, chances are high that workers who have emigrated to the U.S. -- legally or illegally -- are part of the process of getting what you produce to the end user. That makes Thursday's planned announcement of forthcoming federal immigration policy by President Barack Obama so important to the agriculture industry.

The president's remarks Thursday night will likely focus on his effort to put off deportation for up to 5 million undocumented workers and young people (or "dreamers," who came to the U.S. as young children) if they meet certain criteria, namely an age limit, an absence of criminal background, and legal work status.

What's unique -- for better or worse -- in the plans President Obama will lay out Thursday evening during an address at 7:00 p.m. (Central) is the mechanism by which he'll carry them out. Instead of seeking Congressional approval, the President is taking action via executive authority.

"Our immigration system has been broken for decades. And every day we wait to act, millions of undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows: Those who want to pay taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else have no way to live right by the law," according to a statement on "That is why President Obama is using his executive authority to address as much of the problem as he can, and why he’ll continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive reform."

Such an approach isn't drawing much support from the ag labor lobby, though; the administration should instead be working together with Congress to pass legislation that leads to a Visa program that's more "market-based" and supports what both migrant workers and the farmers who depend on them want.

"As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the Administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market-based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs," according to a statement released Thursday by the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, a group representing agricultural employers in the U.S. "Without such legislation, farmers will continue to be unable to find the workers they need to pick crops or care for livestock; more food production will go overseas; local economies across the country will suffer; and the American consumer will pay more for the food they eat. What farmers, ranchers and growers need, and what the American people deserve, is for policy makers in Washington to do their jobs and act to solve the country’s broken immigration system."

Watch the speech LIVE here at 7:00 p.m. CT.

More Immigration Announcement Headlines


Published: 11/20/2014
There is little the Republican Party can do to prevent President Obama from issuing executive orders on Thursday that will delay the threat of deportation for millions of upwards of 5 million undocumented immigrants, but that doesn't mean that the GOP doesn't have a hope of overturning the president's actions.


Published: 11/20/2014
Could Jeb Bush's support for Common Core hurt his chance at 2016 nomination. President Obama will deny health benefits to the 5 million people he is shielding from deportation. But these undocumented immigrants have other ways of getting health care. President Obama will use executive action to shield millions of immigrants form deportation, but they will not be eligible for health benefits under Obamacare.


Published: 11/20/2014
In what's expected to be one of the most controversial moves of his administration's tenure, President Obama will announce an executive order on immigration this evening from the White House. The order is likely to grant legal status to nearly half of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., giving many access for the first time to legitimate work visas, or protection from deportation.


Published: 11/20/2014
WASHINGTON — About half of all Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama’s incoming executive action on immigration despite agreeing with Obama on principle, according to a recent poll. Nearly six in 10 Americans support creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living ...


Published: 11/20/2014
President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech at 8 PM tonight to announce changes in immigration policy. It's expected that he'll grant deportation relief and a path toward legal status for as many as 5 million illegal immigrants, particularly those with children who are U.S. Here are answers to some questions about Obama's upcoming announcement: Q: How can I watch the speech.


Published: 11/20/2014
WASHINGTON: Obama is preparing to flex his executive powers Thursday, using a nationally televised address to announce that he is sidestepping Congress and ordering his own federal action on immigration But the vehement reaction of Republicans, who will have complete control of Congress come January, made clear that Obama was courting what could be one of the most pitched partisan confrontations of his presidency.


Published: 11/20/2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior House Republican says that it's impossible to block President Barack Obama's upcoming moves on immigration in a spending bill. A temporary government funding bill expires next month, and some conservative Republicans want to use a must-pass spending bill to block Obama on immigration.


Published: 11/20/2014
President Obama is set to issue an executive order to enact immigration reform that will unilaterally grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. The action will be unveiled during a Thursday night speech from the White House. Immigration reform has been one of the most contentious issues of Obama’s tenure.


Published: 11/20/2014
President Obama will lay out his plan tonight for changes to U.S. immigration policy. We'll talk with two members of IIT's Undocumented Students and Allies organization about what they hope to see happen. [View the story "Worldview: Obama to announce action on immigration" on Storify]


Published: 11/20/2014
Mitch McConnell , the incoming Senate majority leader, accused President Obama of playing politics with immigration Thursday. Speaking on the Senate floor hours before the president's scheduled speech on halting deportations for many undocumented immigrants, McConnell, R-Ky., said "slapping the ...

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