Members of Wisconsin's dairy industry say they support a new bipartisan immigration reform plan unveiled this week.
The "set of principles," as it's being called, creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. Lawmakers also want to create an 11-month visa for temporary agricultural workers. Zenn Miller is an extension agent in Outagamie County, where many of the larger farms depend on immigrant labor. He says the proposed reforms would help farmers get the documentation they need. "I've had some people who wanted to get them a green card, and couldn't. It was part of the process and it just, like everything fell into a black hole and nothing happened, because they're not what the government thought of as highly skilled. They are not doctors and attorneys."
But there are producers who see dairy work as highly skilled. Linda White runs a dairy farm with her husband, near Reedsburg. She says giving workers a visa will give employers a larger labor pool to choose from. "It's difficult to make sure employees have all the credentials they need to have, so you turn away people who don't have them. If we can come up with a pool it will certainly make our lives easier."
The proposed changes to immigration law has the support of several Wisconsin organizations, including the Farm Bureau Federation and the Dairy Business Association.