July 21, 2021

Durbin Questions Witnesses at Hearing on Need for Path to Citizenship for Immigrant Farmworkers

WASHINGTON – During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, “Immigrant Farmworkers are Essential to Feeding America,” U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to reflect on the state of agriculture in Secretary Vilsack’s home state of Iowa as it relates to the issue of immigrant farmworkers.

“We have a witness in the next panel, Linnea Kooistra—thank you for being here—she’s from a dairy family.  And I’ve had dairy farmers tell me that unless you’re lucky enough to have a bunch of kids who want to hang around a farm, by and large you need workers to come in to milk those cows twice a day to keep the dairy farm operating.  Same thing is true in the orchards of southern Illinois… have you seen the same thing in Iowa and other parts of the nation?” Durbin asked.

Secretary Vilsack said that he has seen similar worker shortages across the country and that it is clear that this industry relies on immigrant workers.

Video of Durbin’s questions to Secretary Vilsack in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions to Secretary Vilsack in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions to Secretary Vilsack in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

Durbin also questioned the second panel on the need for the Senate to take up legislation to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers.  Those panelists included Mr. Arturo S. Rodríguez, President Emeritus, United Farm Workers of America; Mr. Shay Myers, CEO and Farmer, Owyhee Produce, Ontario, Oregon; and Leon R. Sequeira, Former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy.

Arturo Rodríguez, President Emeritus of United Farm Workers of America, explained what passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would mean to the undocumented immigrant farmworkers in America today and how this legislation would benefit the agriculture industry.

“The reality is we have worked very hard with the ag industry, as well as with Republicans and Democrats, especially in these last few years in trying to develop the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to ensure that in fact those workers that are working here today in agriculture will continue working in agriculture for years to come,” Mr. Rodríguez said.

Video of Durbin’s questions to Mr. Rodríguez, Mr. Myers, and Mr. Sequeira in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions to Mr. Rodríguez, Mr. Myers, and Mr. Sequeira in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions to Mr. Rodríguez, Mr. Myers, and Mr. Sequeira in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

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