Immigration reform was the hot topic in Orange County, Calif., where Western Growers participated Thursday in an open discussion with local pastors, businessmen, law enforcement and Republican leaders. The diverse group came together with a unified message: “We are individuals and groups from the business, agriculture and faith communities with various viewpoints on immigration reform, but are united in our message that the immigration system has failed. Now is the time to resolve differences and solve this problem in a sensible way. We urge members of Congress to act in a positive way to support immigration reform.”
Each participant gave brief remarks and took questions from the press that included the Orange County Register, La Opinion, Univision, and additional local media. WG Vice President and General Counsel Jason Resnick spoke about agriculture’s need for a new and practical guest worker program and served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. He was joined by Bob Loewen and Teresa Hernandez of the Orange County Lincoln Club; Evangelical Pastors Tim Celek of The Crossing Church and Christian Parra of the Harbor Christian Fellowship; Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Ed Fawcett and Sgt. Vick Bakkila of the Costa Mesa Police Dept. All spoke of the need for common-sense immigration reform.
Loewen emphasized that free markets and trade are consistent with immigration reform. Hernandez addressed the media in Spanish and English identifying herself as a conservative Republican saying “study after study shows that immigrants are a net benefit to our economy,” and Fawcett said that reforming the current immigration process is long overdue. Pastor Celek whose congregation exceeds 2,000 members said the issue goes beyond politics for him. “As a Christian, it is about the dignity of human beings who, like me, are made in the image and likeness of God.” Celek closed the press conference with prayer.
The group will plan a follow-up roundtable meeting and discussion later this month. The group will invite select Orange County Congressional representatives, as well as members of the state Legislature and city councils, many of whom have historically shown little support for legislative efforts designed to reform the immigration system in America.
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