Farmers welcome new immigration reform proposal

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

ELK MOUND, Wisc. (WEAU) - Possible changes to the country's immigration policies could have major impacts on area farms.

The new comprehensive plan to change immigration includes more opportunities for work visas for agriculture workers, which some farmers said is long overdue.

"We can't allow (immigration reform) to get bogged down in endless debate. We've been debating this for a very long time," President Barack Obama said.

"I'm a little hesitant to think that it will get changed, because they've been talking about this for years," Elk Mound dairy farmer Lee Jensen said.

"It's just outdated, and it needs to be updated, and i'm hoping they come up with a much better system," Jensen said.

Lee Jensen said he has about ten immigrant workers from Mexico.

With new plans to create work visas for ag workers and a path to citizenship, he said it could keep reliable workers at his farm, bringing more continuity and productivity.

"Most of the older visas that they had were all designed for seasonal cropping things, like picking asparagus ... But in dairy, there's a training process," he said. "Having a lot of turnover in help every three months really isn't gonna cut it very well."

"It would make everybody more at ease, I believe our country needs to know who's here, and they need to have background checks and all those things."

"In a lot of ways, it's really a humanitarian issue."

Jensen said he supports more background checks and hopes the changes would allow the government to focus on keeping criminals out.

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