Last week, The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) lead a group of over 115 people representing the green industry who marched on Capitol Hill in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The contingent was part of the nearly 300 members of the agriculture and horticulture industries from 32 states who visited 61 Senate offices and 56 House offices. Funded largely by a major donation from raisin producers, the day focused on a message of safeguarding our nation’s food supply and agricultural productivity.
“This issue is being hotly debated in the Senate right now,” said Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA’s senior director of government relations. “The goal of today’s efforts was to bring together the largest coalition possible and deliver the most politically compelling message to achieve comprehensive immigration reform and avert the very real possibility of enforcement-only legislation currently under consideration.”
The message was reinforced during a mid-day press briefing. With a “farmers market” in the foreground, Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) spoke of the clear need for a solution addressing border security, guest worker programs and a realistic approach to the estimated 7.5 million undocumented workers currently in the United States, they were joined by Congressmen Doc Hastings (R-WA) and George Radanovich (R-CA).
The visits to the Hill fell right before a major push by anti-immigrant forces to target Senators during their upcoming recess. These efforts include calls, visits and daily faxes as well as a major presence on talk radio. “It is critical that our industry continue to make its voice heard throughout this process,” stressed Regelbrugge. “While your Senators are back in their home offices [on recess] is an important opportunity for our industry to deliver a strong message about the necessity for comprehensive immigration reform and the dire risks of an enforcement only solution.”