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Rising antagonism have been faced by undocumented immigrants in Republican states like Alabama and Arizona. But an alliance of agricultural and business groups in Kansas puts forward a different message, and that is, the state needs these immigrants.
Many states have enacted tough legislation following the controversial new immigration measure of Arizona, with the intention of discouraging illegal immigration by making it very hard for undocumented workers to find jobs.
However, the crackdowns have caused a mess on the agriculture industries of these states. Alabama and Georgia farmers have not been able to harvest their crops due to the lack of immigrant workers which they have come to depend heavily upon. Some of the farmers are now planning to scale down the amount of crops they plant to cope with the decreased labor pool.
According to John McMillan, the Agriculture Commissioner of Alabama, state legislators who actively pushed for the passage of the law did not see the unintended consequences coming. He also said he had personally witnessed crops rotting in the field.
In the case of Kansas, representatives of state’s agriculture industry are taking a different approach. An influential coalition of business groups, with backing from Dale Rodman, the Kansas Agriculture Secretary, is calling for the creation of a state-sponsored program which would permit businesses with a verified farm worker shortage to hire undocumented immigrants.
Eric Stafford, the senior director of government affairs for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said, “We feel it’s a pro-business, pro-economy, pro-Kansas strategy to address the immigration issue in the western half of the state. The alternative options that are out there are the Alabama, Georgia or Arizona style law enforcement provision, and we’ve seen the economic impact those types of laws have had on their states.”