At our June meeting, the Center’s Board of Directors backed a proposal to fix the broken immigration system. Board president and Fullerton, Nebraska, farmer Jim Knopik noted that immigration reform is at the top of the national agenda. Given that, it is important to emphasize that rural communities have much to gain from fixing current immigration policy.
The Center’s policy calls for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who fulfill the requirements. Noting that it is important to resolve the current challenge of undocumented immigrants already here and provide for a more robust system of legal immigration in the future, the board’s proposal calls for an independent commission to set practical and appropriate limits for future legal immigration.
The board’s policy also called for stricter enforcement of existing labor laws and of the prohibition on hiring undocumented immigrants and falsely classifying them as independent contractors.
Under current law, the United States admits only 10,000 manually skilled workers on work visas each year. That is only about 1 for every 100 immigrants who enter without a visa and find work. The door to legal, documented immigration used by earlier generations is today largely closed for all but the wealthy and well-educated.
Reforming this system and more fully engaging immigrants in rural communities and American democracy through support for minority business development, voter registration, leadership development, and other means will bring people together and build community.
You can find the Center’s statement on immigration here.