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Editor’s 2 cents

By Staff | May 20, 2011

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, U.S. citizens graduating with animal science degrees this month knew they would be competing for jobs in the U.S. with foreign nationals.

Now they are just learning that the playing field has been tipped, but not in their favor.

The CIS said that the Department of Homeland Security, or more specifically its Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arm, is offering a 29-month, 7.65 percent bonus to employers who hire documented aliens in the fields of dairy science, animal science, agronomy, crop science and forestry science.

Over the 29 months, it means that an employer can get a $9,422 tax avoidance benefit for each visa’d alien it hires at $50,000 or more salary.

And while it may seem that the word enforcement in ICE’s name typically refers to investigations and arrests, this new policy for paying premiums to employers who hire documented, green-carded aliens over Americans is mystifying.

It appears that ICE’s program is a weird twist in the tax code designed to, apparently, encourage foreign nationals to come to this country legally, rather than with subterfuge.

Call me old-fashioned, call me U.S.-centric, call me small-minded – it’s all sticks and stones anyway – but what ICE is doing is not right. If the benefit was to encourage hiring documented workers in high-paying field when no qualified U.S. citizen has applied for the job, I have no objection to the rule.

But as it reads, this action is discriminatory to America’s own graduates. Why would a federal agency institute such a policy at all, much less during a time when getting Americans into jobs that pay living wages is so crucial?

Another maddening piece of this story is that ICE has the authority to implement such a policy without consulting a single congressional committee.

I hope Sen. Grassley and other like-minded U.S. lawmakers, and perhaps governors from ag states, will take this issue on and rescind the ICE’s discriminatory program.

I hope it’s soon.

Larry Kershner is news editor for Farm News. Contact him at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or at kersh@farm-news.com

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