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President Punts Immigration Until After Elections

September 11, 2014

President Obama will not take any administrative action on immigration until after the November elections, the White House announced earlier this week, ending expectations that agricultural employers will benefit any time soon from changes to the nation’s labor laws.

Earlier this year, the President announced that he was directing the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department to give him recommendations on administrative actions he could take to provide relief to individuals who lacked legal status in the United States. That led to hopes that, absent passage of comprehensive legislation in Congress, at least some current policies may change for farm employers.

Over the summer, NMPF met with White House officials on two separate occasions to share concerns with current immigration laws, and their impact on the dairy industry. NMPF believes that the only long-term solution to the dairy industry’s immigration challenges is legislation that addresses both current and future workforce challenges. However, given the lack of congressional action to pass legislation that provides relief to dairy farmers, NMPF welcomed the opportunity to share the dairy industry’s concerns, and propose to the administration possible short-term relief for workers and various industries.

Even administrative action proved to be too controversial, however, with several Senate Democrats facing reelection voicing their concerns to the White House that any action may cost them votes in November. Hence the decision this past weekend by the White House to forego any steps that might create problems at the polls for those seeking reelection. If and when the President decides to act after the November elections, NMPF will continue to pursue relief of any kind, be it administrative or legislative.

Similarly, NMPF remains committed to passing legislation that will provide certainty and relief to dairy farmers when the 114th Congress gets underway in January 2015. NMPF worked tirelessly to pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate in 2013. Because similar legislation was not considered in the House of Representatives, new bills will have to be drafted and passed in both chambers in the next Congress, regardless of any action President Obama may take.