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Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Immigrant Workers, Agriculture, and Need for Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, “From Farm to Table: Immigrant Workers Get the Job Done.”  The hearing will highlight how immigrant workers are essential to put food on our tables, the need for immigration reform to help American farms and businesses, and the importance of protections and fair wages for both domestic and immigrant workers.

Key Durbin quotes:

“Last week, the members of the Committee traveled back home for Memorial Day.  It was an opportunity to meet with constituents and learn more about their concerns.  For my part, I met with constituents across the State of Illinois.  And everywhere I traveled, I heard the same thing over and over and over.  I’m sure other members of the Committee did as well: Our nation is in dire need of legal workers.”

“We have roughly 10 million unfilled jobs in this country and too few workers to fill them.  This shortage is hurting every community and every industry—from health care to hospitality.”

“One sector where our worker shortage is especially dire is agriculture—an industry that relies heavily upon the labor of immigrants.”

“Today, our nation’s broken immigration system makes it difficult for America’s farms and factories to recruit and retain the workers they need to create stability and affordability for our food supply.”

“For more than three decades, Congress has failed to modernize our nation’s immigration system.  As a result, our nations’ farms, factories, and food processing facilities have struggled to secure a steady, stable supply of workers.”

“When it comes to securing our nation’s food supply chain, immigration reform is a top priority.  And though strengthening our nation’s border is a crucial component—it is only one part of the equation.  We need to approach this issue as an economic imperative.”

“But it seems that some—in states like Arkansas—would prefer to address these shortages by rolling back child labor laws.  This is not a solution—this is a shame.”

“Reducing the wages of legal immigrant farmworkers, or forcing undocumented farmworkers out of the workforce—as some have proposed—are not solutions.”

“Instead, lawmakers must enact new laws to protect the rights of these workers, while also providing them with a path to permanent legal status.  These reforms will ensure that farmworkers can continue contributing to our nation.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.