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Progressive on immigration

September 29, 2017
Farm News

It appears that I am a progressive on immigration. My perspective on the immigration issue comes from my family experience, my theology which is Lutheran ELCA, and my industry which is the Ag sector. First, we will discuss the family. One of my nieces married a Mexican. He is as fine a young man as they come. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has complained about DACA explaining that there was a "loophole" in the executive order that allowed DACA kids to return to their home country (hard to do when you have never been there before). They would leave the country here and return legally, they would get a green card and then gain citizenship. What he calls a loophole to me is the legal process. It is exactly what this nephew did. He now has US citizenship, graduated from college, started a new job and they now have a son, who is the cutest new American.

This story goes a bit further. Microsoft recently announced that the Federal government was going to have to go through them to try to deport their DACA employees. They will foot their full legal defense. John Thompson is on the Board as Chairman of Microsoft. He is married to my sister-in-law's sister so we share the very same niece and the nephew that went through the immigration process that I described. They went through the legal process, which in my opinion, is exactly what should happen for which Senator Grassley should not complain about. Kudos to Microsoft.

We had a foreign exchange student from Brazil who attended high school here, went home and came back for college. He has not left since. We stay in touch. He has got a good job, got married and last month they also had a son, who is now an American citizen. Our exchange student's grandfather was an American and now so is our exchange student's son. He loves this country and is seeing to it that his next generation will not have an issue with citizenship.

As I have written, my older son was just married in Brazil to a Brazilian. She will be going through the green card process that will allow her to work here. She is a very well-educated businesswoman. I do not think that citizenship is an issue with her. We are told that the green card process has gotten tougher but she is the poster-example of what green cards were meant for. I will keep you posted on the process.

My wife is president of our Lutheran congregation and she attended a national women's gathering in Minneapolis this summer attended by thousands of Lutheran women from all over the U.S. and many other countries around the world. She said that the predominant conference theme turned out to be "justice" - and especially, there was much emphasis on justice for the immigrant population. There is strong theological support for helping these people in need. When the kids show up at the border, they must be taken care of. Our bishop and pastor are in line with this stance on immigrants. Polls show evangelicals support DACA. That question of "What Would Jesus do?" leans pretty heavily on the side of support for DACA. Heck, there was a poll showing 73 percent of core Trump supporters support DACA with 48 percent of his supporters saying that they should be allowed to become citizens. Here is something that we agree on.

My industry, the Ag sector, depends on immigrant labor. I was pleasantly surprised to read Mike Wilson's "This Business is Farming" column in Farm Futures Magazine, "The Issue That Will Not Go Away." He did a great job of highlighting Ag Secretary Sonny Purdue's work trying to convince the President of the importance of keeping NAFTA - of explaining that "certain jobs in this country don't appeal to many US citizens," arguing that "fear mongering over migrant workers taking US jobs is a non-starter" and that we need to "develop a policy that allows hardworking people who are doing useful labor to be part of our economy and, if they want, become US citizens".

The Ag sector has had as much or more interaction with these immigrants than any other sector and it has been a positive experience. They are hard-working family oriented morally sound people who had the gumption to risk everything for a better life, often focused on the betterment of the next generation. They went after the opportunity for their families in the only way that was open to them. I believe that they are making this country better too.

President Obama signed an executive order establishing the DACA program where kids of undocumented immigrants could gain a legal work status. Most of these kids know no other country than the one they have lived in, which is the US. They did not break any laws and have no criminal records, have attended schools and are employed, paying taxes. They are Americans in every sense other than having a document of citizenship. I think DACA was a great program that in all likelihood did exceed President Obama's legal authority to order.

President Trump made ending DACA a campaign promise but one with a very small constituency - a minority within a minority. His flip-flopping stances shows the deference he still gives his core base of supporters. I suppose that if he can get Congress to legitimize DACA under the law then he can claim that technically he kept his campaign promise to end it. He gave Congress the chance to fix it which Congress should do. This will be another test of governance that Congress needs to pass in order to prove that it is not a failed institution.

Obama started it, Trump is forcing it and Congress needs to make it the law of the land to benefit families, the exercise of Christian morality and for the Ag sector to feed the people of this country and the world.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.



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