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Editor’s Note: It’s time

July 3, 2018 -  By

Marisa PalmieriI can vividly recall sitting next to Bob Dolibois, retired executive vice president of the American Nursery & Landscape Association (now AmericanHort), on a bus ride at an industry event in May 2007, days after the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 was introduced in the Senate.

This bill—which was viewed as a compromise between both parties, thanks to its path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and its provisions for border protection—had to pass this time around, he said.

Otherwise, it would be more than five years until we’d see a legitimate immigration reform bill again. “That’s a long time,” I remember thinking, and I questioned whether or not it could happen sooner. Dolibois explained that it was unlikely a president would support a touchy subject like immigration reform in his or her first term.

The 2007 bill was introduced in the Senate in May, but it was never voted on and effectively died in early June. Another bill, brought to the floor after then-President George W. Bush’s urging, met a similar fate later that month. In 2013, during President Barack Obama’s second term, the Senate passed an immigration bill, but the House did not act on it.

Here we are 11 years after that bus ride with no comprehensive reform, no permanent fix to the H-2B visa program and an administration that appears to be bent on an enforcement-only plan, going as far as separating immigrant parents from their children at the border.

An early June raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Corso’s Flower & Garden Center in Sandusky and Castalia, Ohio, has been on my radar because of its industry connection and its proximity to where I live. When I first heard about Corso’s, I had the same thought AmericanHort expressed in a June 8 statement posted on its website: “It is ironic that this latest enforcement action coincided with a U.S. Department of Labor announcement that there are about 400,000 more job openings than there are job seekers to fill them.”

The unemployment figures don’t justify employing undocumented workers—and I’m not advocating for people to break the law. But they do shed light on our broken system. For continued prosperity, we need people in our country who want to work. Isn’t it reasonable to expect our elected officials to make laws that are effective and don’t hinder economic growth?

I can’t say it any better than AmericanHort: “We can and must do better. Congress has, for decades, sidestepped the urgent need to fix a broken system. It’s time that our enforcement resources are targeted toward true threats, and that well-functioning immigration and work visa programs allow our industry to achieve its economic potential.”

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Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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