Immigration in focus for rural America

Print Article

A raid in north central Nebraska put a spotlight on immigration in rural America.

It targeted alleged labor exploitation by a local employment agency. It swept up more than 100 community members and employees of local businesses.

The raid highlighted how deeply immigration is reshaping rural America.

When we consider immigration, we often think of midsize communities with large meatpackers. Few of us think of communities with 100 residents in a county of 800 residents. That is increasingly the reality.

In conversation with rural people, I often hear a refrain about immigration. I’ll paraphrase it as, “I don’t mind new immigrants moving here, I just wish they would do it legally.”

Unfortunately, there is no legal pathway for the vast majority of immigrants.

Consider, there are three primary ways to immigrate legally to the U.S. This includes employer-based immigration, family reunification, and humanitarian protection. Employer-based immigration is limited, and unavailable for most immigrants.

For individuals who have a legal pathway, resulting wait times can stretch to 20 years. This is untenable.

That is why the Center for Rural Affairs first called on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. We called for creating an opportunity for undocumented immigrants to fulfill requirements and become citizens, a more robust process for legal immigration, a new commission to determine a practical number of workers allowed to immigrate annually, and enforcement of wage and labor laws to prevent employers from misclassifying workers.

The reality is that new immigrants have become an important part of our communities. They are homeowners, entrepreneurs, leaders, parents, and employees. It is not our new neighbors who have failed to keep up.

It is our own immigration law that has not kept up with our communities and the people who live there—new immigrants and long time residents alike.

The need to enact immigration law change is as critical and urgent as it was in 2013.

— Brian Depew

Center for Rural Affairs, briand@cfra.org

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

Print Article

Read More Letters to the Editor

President’s budget ignores needs of rural America

April 05, 2019 at 7:34 am | Western News Details on President Trump’s 2020 budget were released this month. In an attempt to rein in federal spending, the budget recommends a $3.6 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortuna...

Comments

Read More

Setting the record straight on HB 722

April 05, 2019 at 7:34 am | Western News I would like to provide some factual information about HB 722, a bill I am sponsoring this session, as it was the focus of a recent letter to the editor and was completely misrepresented. HB 722 all...

Comments

Read More

Montana House Dems weigh in on health care

April 05, 2019 at 7:34 am | Western News One of the most important issues that we will tackle this session is protecting the healthcare coverage of more than 96,000 Montanans. Last week, the House Human Services Committee voted to advance H...

Comments

Read More

Libby needs to return to roots for good paying jobs

March 26, 2019 at 11:36 am | Western News Shopko’s looming closure is but the latest in a long line of business closures/failures in Libby — Stimson lumber, Stinger Welding, Revett Minerals, SK Fingerjoint, LiV Golf Cars, and the list goes o...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 293-4124
311 California Ave.
Libby, MT 59923

©2019 The Western News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X