The Illinois Farm Bureau is touting the economic benefits of immigration reform. Farm Bureau President Rich Guebert says Illinois isn’t all corn and beans; there are more labor-intensive operations such as dairy and pork, and they have trouble hiring American workers.
“H-2A, the agriculture visa program, requires employers who use H-2A to advertise for domestic workers and offer them the positions. In a recent year in Illinois, only 28 percent of the domestic workers offered positions under H-2A rules accepted those jobs,” he said.
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Of those Americans hired, only one in 20 stayed for the duration of the contract, Guebert says.
He says he prefers immigration reform that offers the opportunity for citizenship to those here illegally now, but the real interest of farmers is a stable, legal workforce.
The USDA says the immigration reform passed last year in the U.S. Senate would bring $100 million in personal income and 1,800 jobs to Illinois. The House of Representatives has not acted on that legislation nor acted on its own.