Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Growers push California GOP on immigration

Farm worker heat

Lisa Morehouse/KQED

California grape and fruit tree growers want Congress to pass immigration bill that includes citizenship and agricultural visas.

The monuments and memorials in Washington are closed, due to the government shutdown. But Tuesday afternoon the National Mall will be the site for  a march for immigration reform. Organizers say it's they'll have access to the mall because this is First Amendment issue.  They promise "tens of thousands" will rally to push the House to follow the Senate's lead and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

It's the same message delivered recently by California growers.

In between last week's votes to delay parts of the Affordable Care Act and fund pieces of the federal government, California's Republican House members met with organizations representing the state's agriculture industry.

Berry Bedwell, head of the Grape and Fruit Tree League, says the message was simple: "The House of Representatives, obviously controlled by the Republicans, needs to produce a bill or combination of bills that can eventually get to conference with the Senate version." 

The resulting measure would be a compromise, but Bedwell says it must include both a path to citizenship for the undocumented already here and a market-based agricultural visa program to protect the domestic food supply.

Bedwell says it was important to deliver that message to GOP members who will be "listening most closely to those people that have been communicative and supportive of them in the past."

They did not meet with Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the number three Republican in House leadership. But they did meet with one of his aides, who wanted growers to carry the message back to California that McCarthy supports immigration reform. Bedwell says the question from growers was whether McCarthy was using his influence to do "all that can be done" to move immigration reform forward in the House.

Bedwell sensed pessimism from California GOP members he hasn't heard before regarding immigration legislation, but he insists Congress must act in the next 60 days before its focus turns to next year's mid-term elections. 

 

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