CRA Calls for Immigration Fix

Organization opposes state enforcement of federal law.

Published on: Oct 22, 2010

The Center for Rural Affairs is calling for comprehensive federal legislation to fix the broken immigration system in America.  But CRA opposes legislation that requires state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law. The new policy position was approved unanimously following vigorous discussion by the organization's Board of Directors at their most recent meeting.

Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs, says the Center endorsed a balanced approach that includes more effective federal enforcement of the prohibitions on hiring undocumented workers together with increased opportunities for legal immigration.  CRA believes, undocumented immigrants who abide by the law and fulfill the requirements for obtaining citizenship should be offered the opportunity to remain in the U.S. as citizens. 

The resolution passed by the CRA Board also urged federal action to prevent employers from evading immigration law by falsely classifying employees as independent contractors. According to Hassebrook, undocumented immigrants misclassified as contractors are America's most vulnerable and exploited workers. They have no minimum wage protection or legal recourse against mistreatment in the workplace.

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  1. D. McCreary says:

    I have two main concerns about the massive immigration numbers since the '90's. The impact on the wages of the working poor is the first one. At a church discussion of immigration, the former police chief in Perry, Iowa, told about the purchase of the Oscar Meyer plant there by Iowa Beef Processors in the 1980s. Wages dropped from $18.50 an hour to $6.50 an hour. As the man told me later, "You can't pay the mortgage on that wage. 'IBP' means 'Iowa Backs Poverty.'" I once met a union organizer at the Cook Foods plant in Kentucky, who was at a stockholder meeting of Conagra, the owner of this subsidiary. He went to the Cook plant in Lincoln and told me that with so many Asian immigrants earning the minimum wage, there was no way he could organize a union in that plant. They were earning a king's ransom compared to wages in their own countries of origin. As I saw in Crete, do we really want to ask Americans to live three families to a rented house or ten single men to one room just to get our meat a little cheaper? This is a justice issue. The second concern is the massive population growth we can expect. "The Population Bomb" by Paul Ehrlich may have been overstated, but it did open people's eyes to see the environmental consequences of more births. Immigration has wiped out any gains made from birth control and restraint. Population growth and sustainability is rarely considered in any discussion of immigration reform or policy now. When we consider an amnesty for 12 to 20 million illegal aliens, we must expect to add their descendents as well to the higher population numbers. According to the Census Bureau's population projections, the low estimate is 437 million by 2100, the middle estimate is 571 million, and the high estimate is 854 million. ("Methodology and Assumptions for the Population Projections of the United States: 1999 to 2100." P. 20) I have seen estimates even higher. I fail to see any advantage to this population growth and the burden of proof should be on those who do. We are already living at an unsustainable level of resource use and adding these numbers will increase the demand for more non-renewable, polluting energy, more land (often fragile with increased urban sprawl), and public policy choices we otherwise would not have to decide. If we make the wrong choice, I hope our grandchildren will forgive us, since they are not here to speak for themselves. I would make a distinction where there is a difference. Immigration policy does not have to do with those immigrants and aliens already in the country. That is "immigrant policy," which deals with treatment of those who have arrived. An example: Should immigrants be given affirmative action preference? Immigration policy must answer at least three questions before anyone arrives here: 1. Who should come? (Relatives-close or distant, highly educated, low-skilled, refugees, etc.?) 2. How many should come? (Barbara Jordan's U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform put the number at 550,000 a year; numbers I have seen range from 50,000 to two million a year) 3. How will we enforce our immigration laws? (Fences, IDs, etc.?) I am assuming we all agree these questions should be answered in Washington, D.C., and not in Mexico City or somewhere else (including states and municipalities), which wish to claim their own sovereignty over the U.S. immigration problem. We could adopt a Constitutional amendment proposed by the Wall Street Journal: "There shall be open borders." (I wonder why.) Then, these questions would not have to be answered. At least we could vote on that and not leave it to neglect or stealth to let in everyone who wants to come, regardless of the will of the majority of voters. It comes down to what priorities and preferences we owe our own citizens. David McCreary

  2. JArneson says:

    I applaud the CRA for taking the time to appreciate the complexity of immigration and to understand that it must be handled with holistic thought considering 1) the entire picture, and 2) actual research and facts rather than emotional reactions and fear. I recently listened to a talk given by an international economics professor from Nebraska who just completed a text book with a professor from St. Cloud called, "The Economics of Immigration". Their research confirmed that immigrants immensely contribute to communities, and he stated that if immigrants truly were a drain on the economy we'd be the most impoverished nation in the world! Isn't that the truth!

  3. mjays says:

    Why am I not surprised? What is there about the term ILLEGAL alien does the CRA not understand? We already have procedures for legal immigration to this country, and millions have either been granted their citizenship, or else are currently trying to LEGALLY enter this country. Anmesty in any form is nothing but a slap in the face to the true law-abiding citizens in this fiasco. If the federal government has no interest in the enforcement of the law (and they do not), then the states have the obligation to enforce these laws to protect the lives and property of their LEGAL citizens. If the CRA is all hot to go on this compassionate position, then they should start advocating for similar treatment of illegal Guatamalan immigrants that are currently overrunning southern Mexico. They might find out that the reaction of the Mexican government to totally different.

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