Thursday, May 12, 2011


On May 10 President Obama went to El Paso, Texas, to emphasize once again the need for Congress to enact meaningful immigration legislation to help fix our current, broken way of dealing with the country's increasing demand for workers. As we emerge from the economic downturn the demand for more workers will accelerate. But we have no system in place to meet this balance.

Congress has the opportunity to take action on two pieces of legislation which will greatly assist two large groups of people. The first is to consider and pass in the House and Senate the DREAM Act and AgJOBS. The first has already been introduced, and the second will be introduced shortly.

The DREAM Act provides a way for young people who were brought to this country without documents under the age of 16 years to move to legal residency status by graduating from college or serving in the military. It makes no sense to punish these young people who have never known any other country, and who have worked hard to get a sound education or to perform military service for the overall benefit of our country. The DREAM Act should be passed quickly and implemented so that we stop wasting the talents of these young people whose only interest is in bettering our country.

AgJOBS [Agriculture Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act] gives the opportunity for undocumented farmworkers who have worked at least 150 days in agriculture over the past two years to become legal residents. We need these workers to perform a myriad of tasks in all aspects of agriculture. Their efforts keep a steady food supply coming to our tables, and they are essential workers for our country. This is one area of employment where other Americans simply will not work.

I plead with President Obama to take a major leadership role in helping to pass both the DREAM Act and AgJOBS--both are essential to reignite our economy and to bring these two groups of people out from the shadows for the benefit of our nation.