“Most immigrants who come to Kentucky, many in my community, are good, hard-working people … . The one way of getting less illegal immigration is to allow more lawful immigration.”
By saying this last week in Louisville while simultaneously proposing that two positive, albeit very limited, changes be made to immigration laws, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul defies anti-immigrant voices that exercise influence within his party.
Paul proposes that participation in the H2-A agriculture program be broadened and that the annual quota for some other employment-based visas be raised from 140,000 to 270,000. By themselves, those measures will not “fix” our dysfunctional, excessively regulated immigration system, but they could at least inch the country toward that goal. In the current political climate it may not be possible to enact much more reform than what Paul proposes.
Unfortunately, Paul’s current proposals will not adequately fulfill needs that employers and the American economy have for immigrant labor. Far more agricultural workers are required. And, while some farm workers eagerly return to their home countries after working here for a few years, others inevitably remain, becoming integrated into Kentucky communities and establishing local families.
So, legal provision needs to be made for eventual transition of foreign-born agricultural workers to Legal Permanent Residency. Paul should work with other legislators within both parties on a “Blue Card Bill” to address that problem and other agricultural labor issues.
Meanwhile, 2,000 young adult Kentuckians who were brought here from other countries as children are working productively and studying in our high schools and colleges. To assure that those youth will be able to continue contributing to our state’s well-being, Paul should co-sponsor the DREAM Act of 2019.