Date: Jul 01, 2014
Magazine:
July 2014: The Doctor Tells All-Link Between Cancer & Nutrition

Now is the time for our representatives in Washington to be statesmen and leaders.  If that’s asking too much, shouldn’t we at least expect them to do their jobs, the major part of which in a two-party political system is to “bring about discussion and bargain with others” or to negotiate legislation.  Aren’t most of them lawyers and business people, and isn’t that what they know how to do?

We are at an impasse with immigration reform legislation in Congress and time is running out.  We can’t let either party find excuses to avoid taking action.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in his primary by another Republican, and opponents of immigration reform tried to tie Cantor’s defeat to his alleged support for “amnesty.”  But Cantor lost for other reasons; polling data from his district shows that a majority of Republicans support immigration reform.  Vocal pro-immigration reform Republicans, such as Rep. Renee Elmers (North Carolina) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) handily defeated immigration reform opponents in their primaries, and in both of those contests, immigration was the dominant issue.   If anything, Representative Cantor failed to articulate a clear position on the issue, earlier suggesting support for some reform measures and later in the campaign expressing increased opposition to reform.  Voters are not against those who support sensible immigration reform, they are frustrated with those on both sides that take positions primarily for political reasons.  If the Republicans fail to act on immigration reform this year, they will have hoisted a white flag into the sky telling opponents they have won and are too powerful to challenge.  That, by most definitions, is not leadership.  It’s surrender.

Those of us for whom reform is essential, we need to stay focused and move forward.  We need to get the 218 votes needed to pass a bill in the House this year so the legislative process can move forward.  If not this year, it could be many years into the future before another opportunity is created.  It’s time for the legislators now in charge to compromise and make a deal.

Many Republicans and Democrats have indicated strong support for reform this year, but if the House of Representatives does not begin passing legislation out of its chamber by August 1, the chance to negotiate a final deal with the Senate that can become law is in serious jeopardy.  The political scramble of midterm elections then takes over all congressional consciousness and we become hard pressed to get legislators to do anything except posture.  The lame duck session after the November election is an improbable time to begin action and extremely difficult given a crowded calendar and election outcomes that could yield a very uncertain lame-duck agenda.  With both chambers required to start over on passing legislation in 2015, presidential primary cycles underway and Republicans increasingly moving away from compromise with the White House, waiting until 2015 is not a better option than acting now.

It’s clear that the question at the heart of the debate is what to do with the 11 million people currently living in the United States who are not here legally.  The stumbling block has been “no amnesty” versus a path to citizenship.  So let’s discuss new terms.  How about we drop both and discuss a pathway to legalization first.

We realize there are other components of immigration reform legislation to be dealt with such as enhanced border enforcement, interior enforcement, the Dream Act, high tech, agriculture and others.  Those can all be resolved fairly quickly if a majority of the House reaches agreement on the 11 million.  Now is the time for Republicans and Democrats alike to step forward and acknowledge we must find a sensible way to deal with the falsely documented individuals currently in the United States.  Some Democrats demand a special path to citizenship or nothing and some Republicans say that giving any status amounts to amnesty.  We need leaders and rank and file members from both parties to forge compromise, support legislation that would take these 11 million out of the shadows but wouldn’t create any special path to citizenship.  This is right from a political, policy, and moral perspective, and the time for such leadership from our elected officials is now.  Those who say the support is not there for sensible reform or are unwilling to come to a compromise are either willfully ignoring the broad support that has risen up on this issue, or they are choosing inaction for politically motivated reasons.

Every day closer to the August recess is another day closer to legislation not getting done this year.  To remind us and our members of the urgency of the moment, Western Growers has initiated a “countdown to immigration reform” in a simple emailed reminder “counting down” the scheduled legislative days before the August congressional recess — the window to pass immigration reform.  On July 1, there will be 15 legislative days remaining on the House calendar before it recesses for August.  Yes, there are obstacles and setbacks but we are pushing now because there may not be a tomorrow for a long time.  While the outcome is uncertain, one thing is certain: We refuse to give up.

WG Staff Contact

Tom Nassif
Former President and CEO

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