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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Speech in Opposition to H.R. 5038 - Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019

December 11, 2019

Congressman Tom McClintock
Speech in Opposition to H.R. 5038
Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019
House Chamber, Washington, D.C.
December 11, 2019

Mr. Speaker:

History warns us that nations which either cannot or will not secure their borders simply aren’t around very long.  If we will not enforce our immigration laws, our borders mean nothing.  America ceases to be a unique nation and instead becomes a vast international territory between Canada and Mexico.

I understand agriculture’s need for labor, especially in so tight a labor market as our blossoming Trump economy has created.  The Bracero program provided a means for seasonal laborers to come to America, be protected under our laws and a powerful incentive to return to their country at the end of the season in the form of a significant financial deposit.  But that program can only work when our immigration laws are being uniformly enforced.

Instead, this bill ignores enforcement and rewards anyone who has illegally crossed our borders with amnesty, as long as they claim to have worked part time in the agricultural sector for the last two years.  It then rewards them with a preferential pathway to citizenship – allowing them to cut in line in front of every legal immigrant who has obeyed our laws, waited patiently in line and done everything our country has asked them.

As a practical matter, we can expect claimants will have little or no scrutiny to the veracity of their claims.  We can expect that once achieving amnesty they will leave the fields for higher-paid employment in direct competition with American workers.  And we can expect a new waive of illegal immigrants coming here to take their places with the full expectation that they, too, will be rewarded with amnesty and citizenship.

There is a better way to resolve this issue.  Secure our borders, uniformly enforce our immigration laws and provide foreign seasonal labor with the opportunity to work and the incentive to return to their countries when that work is done.  And if they wish to become citizens, to ask that they follow the law as millions of legal immigrants have done throughout our history.