Vilsack: Road to Immigration Reform Could Include Several Smaller Bills

USDA Secretary Vilsack reviews impact of immigration policies on agriculture as House continues status quo

Published on: Apr 29, 2014

The trickle-down effect this is having on Virginia's economy is noticeable, Glaize said. Fewer apples harvested means the apple industry can't support as many workers' wages, processing plants, trucking jobs or wholesale jobs.

On a broader scale, Vilsack explained that immigration reform is essential to the economy, pointing to the 1 in 12 American jobs that is connected to U.S. agriculture.

Related: Farm Bureau, Non-Ag Coalition Pressure House GOP on Immigration

Such an agreement would be a win for the federal government, too, he said, offering figures from the Congressional Budget Office that estimate a reform plan would unearth more tax dollars and offer an $850 billion decrease for the federal deficit.

The length of the Social Security system would also be extended by several years as a result of reform, Vilsack said, as workers are allowed a pathway to legalization.

"The workers who are here without proper authorization are stuck. They have no place to go. They can't leave, and they can't come out of the shadows. That can't be … a good resolution of this," Vilsack said.

Whatever happens, Vilsack said the time is now to pass something, even if it is just one small bill.

"When you essentially don't pass anything, you have no vehicle – no avenue – for resolving differences, and things get stuck."