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Republicans As Thoughtful As Ever On Immigration
If you consider a patellar reflex 'thinking.'
The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill yesterday that would allow as many as a million farmworkers who are currently undocumented to get Green Cards, and an eventual path to citizenship. The "Farm Workforce Modernization Act" was co-sponsored by Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) and Zoe Lofgren (D-California), andpassed on a vote of 247-174. It even got 30 votes from Republicans, while two Democrats voted against it.
Newhouse's hometown paper, the Yakima Herald, explains the bill would allow
agricultural workers to earn legal status and, later, gives them the opportunity to apply for permanent residency by showing prior employment and committing to continued work in the industry. It also streamlines the H-2A guest worker program employer process, allows year-round industries such as dairy to participate in the H-2A program, and establishes an E-Verify system for the agricultural sector once other changes are in place.
And how did the bill get at least some bipartisan support? Because agribusiness is way more interested in staying in business, with some certainty about its labor force, than it is in playing footsie with Republicans' dumb culture wars over "amnesty." (Remember when Georgia tried to ban undocumented workers and crops ended up rotting because growers couldn't find Americans who'd do the work? We do!)
Mind you, some Republicans had to go and say the quiet part out loud, and by some, we mean Rep. Darrel Issa (R-California), who worried that if farm laborers get a chance at citizenship, their children yea unto the seventh generation might decide against hiring on as indentured servants. In a statement, Issa fretted,
To end reliance on illegal immigrant labor, the H-2A temporary ag worker program must be made less burdensome for employers. Yet this bill raises government mandated wage rates, adds employer liabilities and extends the list of required benefits making an unpalatable program even less employer friendly.
Further, I fear the bill will exacerbate the ag labor shortage by creating a pathway to citizenship for approximately one million workers, spouses andchildren who will leave, or never enter, agricultural positionscreating an even larger labor shortage that will need to be backfilled.
Our bold, because we're like that. But didja notice what Issa didn't say there? Not a word about how undocumented farm laborers are taking "Americans' jobs," because he at least recognizes what the actual labor pool is. But if, heaven forfend, we treat immigrant laborers with any kind of dignity or decency, and pay them a fair wage, then how the hell will we keep them working for cheap and fearful of la Migra? Issa would no doubt have argued that the Thirteenth Amendment would have been a terrible deal, because where would southern planters find a labor force they had to pay?
Another example of Republicans being a little too honest — not that they ever pay a price for it — comes from the other end of Capitol Hill, where Sen. Lindsey Graham admitted to Politico that while he may have introduced a bill providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers 43 days ago, he wouldn't dream of voting for his own bill today, because at the moment, Republicans are very busy pretending that America is completely overwhelmed by undocumented border crossers.
"God, no," the South Carolina Republican senator scoffed in an interview. "I'm not in support of legalizing one person until you're in control of the border."
Now, if you want to get right down to it, the "crisis" talk is mostly political humbug. The Great Unfuckening of Donald Trump's worst policies has led to more unaccompanied minors and families crossing to claim asylum, which has led to bottlenecks in getting minors placed with sponsors, but the administration is working to resolve the problem as lawfully and humanely as possible.
From a human rights perspective, the crisis is that there's crowding in some of the processing facilities, and let's not pretend that's acceptable. Minors should be placed in safe facilities, and with sponsors, as quickly as possible. But for Republicans, the "crisis" is that anyone is able to exercise their right to ask for asylum at all, because Donald Trump had done such a fine job of forcing migrants into dangerous camps in Mexico and Central America, where they could be preyed on by cartels, but they weren't in America, and weren't being treated as if they had rights.
As for Graham, he's a real profile in spinelessness. He and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced the Senate version of the DREAM Act together, but now that there's a political advantage to be had by fearmongering, there probably aren't any Republican votes for it, and certainly not one from its cosponsor.
Same goes for other Republican "moderates" who had initially signaled they might be willing to help young people who grew up in America after being brought here by their parents.
"Many of us support giving a path to citizenship" to that population of mostly younger immigrants, said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). [...] "But now the border is such a disaster that I don't see how you can do just a bill to deal with Dreamers."
Oh! Oh! We know, Madam Senator! You could vote to protect them right now, because they are not at the border! That is kind of the whole deal with the Dreamers. They've been here since they were children.
In conclusion, please kill the filibuster and fix America, the end.
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