Arizona Immigration Affects Producers

Dairy group president says immigration reform is needed; Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack weighs in as well.

Published on: Jun 26, 2012

The Supreme Court's ruling Monday to uphold parts of the Arizona Immigration Law has the National Milk Producers Federation asking what is next.

The court struck down three out of four sections of Arizona's law that allowed the state to prosecute immigrants that sought work and failed to carry immigration papers, but the most controversial aspect—the ability of law enforcement to check the immigration status of people suspected to be illegal immigrants—was upheld.

In the agriculture sector, immigration laws have affected the ability of producers to find employees for their operations.

NMPF President Jerry Kozak said the ruling illustrates that the few options for immigration reform are controversial.

NMPF President Jerry Kozak says immigration reform is controversial, but necessary.
NMPF President Jerry Kozak says immigration reform is controversial, but necessary.

"These developments show how critically necessary it is to resolve the immigration policy conundrum, especially for farmers and other employers concerned with maintaining and recruiting a workforce," Kozak said.

"This decision highlights the need for continued efforts to reform federal immigration laws, and NMPF will continue to work with regulators and lawmakers to create workable solutions for dairy farmers and their workers," Kozak said.

During a media conference Monday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack responded to a question about the Supreme Court decision: "Basically, this decision underscores the fact that we need comprehensive reform...Congress has no excuse here, they are using this for political means, which encourages states to develop individual laws." He says the solution is to secure the border, develop a process to allow people who want to work here to come whether they "pay a fine, learn the language, apy their taxes."

He adds that the Executive Order signed by President Obama recently that would limit deportation of students means that "we are not focusing our attention on students who score our touchdowns in the high scool, or even serve in the military" but develop serious laws to stop people who represent a threat and focus on them.