New Immigration Policy is a Welcome First Step
Late last week, the Obama administration announced a change in immigration policy that could allow as many as 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children to legally remain in the country. The new policy will not grant citizenship, but it will remove the threat of deportation and grant them the right to work in the United States. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the policy change will apply to those who came to the United States before they were 16 and are younger than 30 if they have lived in the states for five years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or served in the military. The policy change will accomplish portions of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which stalled in Congress last year.
"We are pleased to see the White House use administrative authority to address an important component of the immigration debate. At the same time, we cannot ignore that the agriculture sector continues to face labor shortages and deeper changes are needed.
"Dairy farmers across the country are in need of a reliable, stable and legal workforce. A 2009 study conducted by National Milk Producers Federation found that more than 40 percent of workers on U.S. dairy farms are born outside this country. Unlike most others in the agricultural sector, dairy producers do not have access to the H-2A guest worker program as the industry is not seasonal. Dairy farmers 'harvest' at least twice a day, 365 days of the year.
"We will continue to urge President Barack Obama and his administration to take action that addresses the labor issues dairy farmers continue to experience. A safe, legal and reliable workforce is vital to allow our nation's dairy farmers to continue to produce the safe, nutritious dairy products consumers demand."