As lawmakers in the Senate's Judiciary Committee debate the immigration reform bill released last month, farmers in New York State are hoping to find enough workers to fully staff their operations. It's a yearly struggle in New York and nationwide and according to a report by Farm Credit East, more than 1000 farms in New York could close or shrink by two-thirds if immigration laws were fully enforced.
Dairy farms in northern New York and Vermont have faced a major labor shortage, which means that migrant laborers from Mexico and Guatemala are now milking many of the region's cows. But farm country here is not an easy place to be a migrant worker: It's rural, hard to get around, and there's not a big Latino population. But a new law means that migrant workers in Vermont will soon be able to drive legally.
Small businesses from around the state took their concerns to legislators in Albany Wednesday. The message from leaders in the agricultural industry particularly highlighted the need for reforms to support small farms, and boost local economies upstate.
Several local community organizations have joined forces to create the Central New York Coalition for Immigration Reform. This group will push a comprehensive immigration reform agenda, with an emphasis towards towards family unity, an improved visa system, and a path to eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in this country now. It's the only hope one undocumented immigrant who lives in Syracuse has of staying in this country.
Utica-area Cong. Richard Hanna is one Republican who expects to be on board with any immigration reform that is being proposed in Washington currently. The 22nd district representative says it's an important issue in a region where agriculture is key.
New legislation would allow 55,000 thousand green cards to be earmarked for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math has made it through the House of Representatives. But the bill still has an uphill battle ahead.
Local immigration reform advocates are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. One of the loudest voices comes from a man who is in this country illegally.
Aly Wane was born in Senegal in 1976 and, because of a family dispute, came to live in this country in 1984. He went on to high school and college, but because of his family situation he was never naturalized.