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Pundit’s Mailbag — English And Immigration

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, May 23, 2007

We have been following the immigration debate for some time with many pieces, including: Doubtful Immigration Policy, Pundit’s Mailbag — Immigration, Straight Talk On Immigration, Immigration And The Poultry Industry, Reducing Labor With Technology, AgJobs Take 2, Pundit’s Mailbag — AgJOBS vs. Lou Dobbs, Pundit’s Mailbag — AgJOBS Bill Needs More Support, AgJOBS Gets ‘Pull’ From PMA While United And Others Provide The Push and most recently Compromise Reached On Immigration Reform, But The Battle Is Far From Over and Pundit’s Mailbag — ‘Unworkable’ Immigration Plan.

Today the Pundit sits at his desk inundated with calls to action by various produce and ag associations and various direct messages from people in the industry, such as this one sent over, complete with photo, from Jon Schwalls at Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetables, a grower/shipper and importer based in Moultrie, Georgia:

The year is 1919, almost one hundred years ago…

Theodore Roosevelt’s ideas on Immigrants and
being an AMERICAN in 1919.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American"… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room
for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

— Theodore Roosevelt January 3, 1919

This e-mail, which quotes Theodore Roosevelt in a letter written to the president of the American Defense Society just three days before Roosevelt’s death, along with other comments the Pundit is receiving, indicate that many in the produce industry are concerned for the future of the country. The communications sent out by the trade associations really are not addressing these concerns.

How can they? It is not that many want to disagree with the produce trade associations, most do not. Yet no trade association in any industry has special insight in weighing issues that go to the core of what kind of people we are and what kind of nation we want to be.

Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, will probably introduce an amendment to make English the official language of the U.S. Many would say one language is essential if everyone is to be able to fully participate in the political life of the country. But surely there is no cucumber industry position on such an amendment, no particular axe for the potato farmers to grind.

The Pundit suspects a political trap anyway. The current bill is very unpopular among the Republican base.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, has already indicated that she would not support the bill as it is.

So, lots of Republican Senators may take a difficult vote politically, then, once weakened by this vote, the Democrats in the House won’t let it pass anyway, preferring to keep the issue alive for the next election.

The initial plan was to try and get the bill through the Senate before the Memorial Day recess. That plan failed and now the plan is to offer amendments all through the week and then resume the process after Memorial Day. This means that senators will be back in their states and representatives back in their districts getting feedback.

One thing the associations clearly are correct on is that on the quality and quantity of that feedback, the future of this bill will surely depend. So whatever you believe, the time to express yourself is today. If you wish to support AgJOBS, click on the Support AgJOBS today button to the side of this page.

Many thanks to Jon Schwalls and to Southern Valley for reminding us of the big issues at stake in this battle.

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