Like Bush, Obama for comprehensive immigration change including status of farm and food workers

August 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

oregon statesman journal

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that it’s not just farmers, farmworkers and critics of illegal immigrants who have something at stake in how immigration issues are resolved. Without the help of immigrants, he said, food prices will increase — or more food will have to come from other nations. “I do not know of too many Americans, especially in a recession, who say they want to pay more for their food,” he said in response to a question by Larry Kleinman, secretary-treasurer of Oregon’s largest farmworkers union that is known by its Spanish initials PCUN. As for increasing imports, Vilsack said, “If you think it’s difficult negotiating with Hugo Chavez over oil, think about what it would be like providing your food.” He referred to the president of Venezuela, a persistent critic of the United States. Venezuela supplies 12 percent to 15 percent of U.S. oil imports.Vilsack is a former state senator and two-term governor of Iowa who was appointed by President Obama in 2009 to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Like his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama has called for comprehensive immigration changes that take into account the status of farmworkers and food workers. Vilsack said later through an aide he is open to how farmer and food-processor needs can be satisfied within the context of an immigration overhaul, which is stalled in Congress.

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