Recently we have seen two pieces of legislation move forward on immigration reform. Both have been largely cheered because they do provide a path to citizenship — or do they? Dan Newhouse has masked his animosity toward immigration reform behind a thin veil of hope. In the Farmworkers Modernization Act, co-written by him, he offers a possibility for citizenship after 14 - 18 years of labor. This legislation was also to reform the H-2A visa process to make it more accessible for our farmers. Even lawyers representing farmers and agriculture say that this document did basically nothing to reform the process, but it did create a modern day indentured servitude.
Now we see the Dignity Program put forward with Newhouse as a sponsor. Again, it leads with the opportunity for citizenship for those that have been in the US undocumented for a minimum of five years. Again, this seems like moving toward the light; however, it also has a loaded backend that requires that our borders be sealed before this path to citizenship can be implemented. In essence, if the wall is not built and manned with armed guards, no one gets anything. We must demand better.
Immigration reform benefits us all: DREAMers, migrant farmworkers, farmers, our communities, and our economy. Over one-third of Washington’s agricultural workers are thought to be migrants. Furthermore, greater than 15% of jobs in our state are agriculture-related. Fair, efficient, humane immigration policy is not only the right thing to do, it is integral to the success of Washington’s economy.
These are the facts; so why is it that Newhouse can not bring himself to put forward immigration reform without attaching burdensome and often cruel caveats? Constructing yet more artificial barriers for agricultural workers and small farmers hurts our struggling economy. If you scratch Newhouse’s thin veneer, you see clearly his contempt for immigration, migrant farmworkers, and farmers dependent on immigration reform.
With Doug White representing Washington’s 4th District in Congress, our immigration policy will be evidence-based and compassionate. Republicans like Newhouse depend on xenophobic, punitive policies that hurt farmers, workers and consumers alike. C.D. 4 needs a Representative who will protect our economy and the most vulnerable among us.