This time of year, we all like to embrace family and friends as we celebrate Christmas and the New Year’s holidays. We host parties and celebrations that are warm and welcoming. These things are good and healthy, and we should continue to keep up our family traditions and celebrations. However, I would like for you to consider adding to your holiday festivities by also embracing the immigrants within your local communities.

How do you do that?

I will leave it up to you to decide “how,” but the “why” is what I want to focus on.

Walk in their shoes
If I place myself in the shoes of a dairy worker who emigrated from a Central American country to the U.S., I don’t have to look very far within most news cycles to hear how I am not wanted or not welcomed here in America.

Obviously, that is not the belief of most of the readers of this article, as we within the dairy industry know the value of these hardworking, family-oriented immigrants that have helped to make the U.S. dairy industry the best in the world. Their value of our immigrant workforce is undeniable, and for the dairy industry in Idaho, the existing workforce is too valuable to negotiate away.

These newcomers need to hear and see that we support them as much as or more than they hear from others that they are unwelcome . . . especially this time of year when many of them are separated from family during the holidays. Secondarily, how do we communicate that message of support to the politicians who continue to fail to see what is so obvious to all of us?

I would argue that we need to do a better job of embracing the immigrant community and do it in a public way so that politicians see, by our actions, that we support these important members of our communities. Arguments based in economics and logic have failed to yield the results we need in Washington, D.C., so maybe strengthening ties between our immigrant communities and the businesses that rely on them will move the needle in the right direction.

Take action
One way the Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) is working to lead with our actions is by supporting an immigration legal services program in Idaho called Familias Unidas. Familias Unidas is part of the Community Council of Idaho that supports our immigrant communities in many ways. IDA is partnering with them by providing $60,000 in funding to support the program. In return, all dairy workers and their immediate family in Idaho are eligible for a free-of-charge consultation from Familias Unidas.

To learn more about the Community Council of Idaho, please visit: https://communitycouncilofidaho.org/. For more information on IDA’s partnership with Familias Unidas, please visit: www.idahodairymens.org/requestvouchers.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2018
December 31, 2018
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