The Shutdown and Immigration 2018

January 24, 2018

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This is Rick Frank sitting in for John Block. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -

It is Tuesday, January 23, and the U.S. government has just reopened. There is no excuse for the three-day shutdown caused by our non-functional Congress and White House. I blame all of them – the Democrats, the Republicans, and the President.

Immigration has always been a difficult issue. We are a nation of immigrants – Irish, German, Italian, Jewish, African, Mexican, Hispanic, Caribbean, Asian, and Middle Eastern. We are the true melting pot of the world. That is what makes us so exceptional.

U.S. agriculture, especially the fruit and vegetable industries, desperately need and rely upon immigrant labor. Deporting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants would not serve U.S. agriculture. The longstanding struggle on immigration is between those who want to come to America for our laws, our freedoms, and our economic opportunities and those who fear immigrants will take their jobs or add to crime.

The current debate is much more discreet. As part of the absolute need to fund the government for fiscal year 2019, both sides of the debate appear to favor the same core solutions:

• Fund our government, including the military;

• Protect the 600,000 Dreamers – those undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. as children and who have been educated here; and

• Provide more money for border and cyber security, including the President’s wall. President Trump hosted a bipartisan meeting nearly two weeks ago where he supported all of these major points. He said, “Bring me a bill and I will sign it.” On immigration, he said, “I’ll take the heat.” A bipartisan group of Senators did just that – reached a compromise to solve the budget crisis, protect the Dreamers, and start the wall. The next day, the President reneged on his pledge. Based upon most accounts, he also disparaged various African and Caribbean countries.

None of this is helpful. There is near universal agreement we need to fund the government, protect the Dreamers, and enhance border and cyber security.

The America I am proud of is one that is welcoming with a big heart. Immigrants add richness to our society, most pay taxes, and contribute to our uniquely “American” culture. The America I love is also one where our government can function rationally and competently like it used to.

Enough is enough! Pass the budget, legitimize the Dreamers, and end this ugly rhetoric.

Until next week, I am Rick Frank sitting in for John Block from Washington.