Idaho Dairymen's Association and hispanic leaders discuss immigration reform

Posted at 8:18 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 22:18:59-04

The Idaho Dairymen's Association says between 85% and 90%  of their workforce is foreign-born labor. So it makes sense the group and local Hispanic leaders are coming together when it comes to immigration reform.

"Rural Idaho and the economic value of rural Idaho is standing on the shoulders of foreign-born labor. It's time for all of us, stand up and recognize that and it's time for a change," said Bob Naerebout, Executive Director of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.

The Idaho Dairymen's Association and Hispanic leaders are putting their heads together when it comes to immigration reform. The two groups are working to build relations with the help of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs who hopes future immigration is sensible. 

"That everything is done with humanity that it's not done in a vicious way," said J.J. Saldaña of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

National studies have found nearly half of the agricultural workforce is undocumented. And the Idaho Dairymen's Association would like to see a visa program available for year round industries Like agricultural. 

"We don't want to confuse legal with amnesty, we don't want legal status as a pathway to citizenship, but let's start with, how do we provide them with legal status in this country," said Naerebout. 

Experts with a nonpartisan immigration advocacy group say Idaho's economy depends on a functioning immigration system and now is the time to take their message to Washington.

"I think the time is now for the Idaho delegation to step up and lead the nation on immigration reform," said Ali Noorani, the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.