Ag Today October 4, 2017

California Farmers Make Plea For Progress On DACA Legislation

By Kelly Ryan, KOVR TV, Sacramento

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California farmworkers feed not only the state but the world. Now, an agreement that would protect thousands of undocumented workers hangs in the balance, leaving many fearing they could be deported.

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture heard from those in the agricultural community about recent federal immigration changes.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was meant to protect immigrants from deportation who came to the U.S. as children.

As Democrats and Republicans continue to disagree over what happens next, there are questions whether these young people will have a path to citizenship.

“Not only do they have a level of skill, they have a passion to stay in the ag industry,” said board president Craig McNamara.

The country’s ag industry depends on having strong farmers, growers and workers. Many of them come from immigrant families, including those who fall under DACA. That status brought Javier Zamora to Tuesday’s meeting to protect the young workers.

“These kids were brought up in this country when they were little kids and had no idea about the arguments, and you’re going to take the rags off their feet?” he said.

The Trump administration ended the program that started in 2013 under President Barack Obama. It allowed Dreamers to work legally in the United States without being deported.

President Donald Trump negotiated with Democrats on legislation that would protect DACA recipients, but Republicans say no deal has been made.

McNamara says DACA covers 223,000 students and young in the state and calls them some of the best and brightest workers in California.

“They are the future for us both in AG and food production but also in Silicon Valley and across the board,” he said.

He’s optimistic about a solution, but says their status is an immediate issue that must be tackled now.