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By Staff | May 24, 2013

There are reasons why immigration reform has a fair shot at passage. The GOP already took an electoral hit from offending Hispanics with their hardline immigration policy stance and the demographics of the young growing Hispanic population contrasts badly when projected into the electoral future of most old Republicans who are beyond their child-bearing years.

If Democrats performed to their political interests they would feign interest in immigration reform and then just sit back and watch the Republicans muck it up. Then they can really kick their buts in the next election as no Hispanic will vote Republican.

Democrats have been working hard to advance immigration reform and if it is successful it will dilute the political advantage they get from this issue. My congressman is Steve King and true to form, he is front and center in opposition to the immigration reform bill as proposed because there is a pathway to citizenship in it.

The bill has an arduous road to U.S. citizenship but one, if traveled, that would certainly weed out the lazy bums from becoming Americans. Still, King called it a ridiculous bold amnesty plan, denigrating Republicans who would support it. My problem with King is that he is an ineffective conservative spokesman. Take ethanol, for example. He favors it, but few of his conservative compatriots do and he has been totally ineffective in influencing the leadership of his party. If they don’t respect him on ethanol (ignored him on farm bill passage as well), why would we believe he carries any influence with anything else? Nobody is going to pay any attention to his same old broken record views on immigration. In fact, there will be many in his party who understand the political ramifications of his views on immigration that would wish that he would clam up.

He is only playing to the base of his base which works in his district where he is safe, but it makes the GOP vulnerable everywhere else. Even Carl Rove sees King as a liability.

It’s not enough to have a representative who backs your important issues. I will vote for King because of ethanol, agriculture and guns, but I am really disappointed at his lack of influence with others in his own party on these issues. He is not as effective as he should be and I think that his stance on immigration is part of the reason why.

Agriculture favors immigration reform. All of the major players have come together to fashion a bill with the bi-partisan group of U.S. senators that is the skeletal structure of immigration reform. They may flesh it out so that other members of Congress can take credit for a piece of it, or use it to fire up their support within their base by opposing it. The Republicans will want to complain about the bill up to 49.9 percent opposition as they will ultimately want it to pass as a measure for political self-preservation.

They cannot afford for it not to pass. They are going to make a whole bunch of noise feigning opposition in order to placate their base before allowing just enough room for its enactment.

Up to 70 percent of the “U.S. farm work force is undocumented and employers who need these workers and for whom there is no real alternative are tired of working with a system of illegals.

The working group agreed on a 13-year path to citizenship (10 years for a green card, and three more for naturalization), a series of border security requirements, a mandatory electronic employment verification program, a new merit-based program for foreign workers to become legal permanent residents and a plan to clear the backlog of those immigrants who have applied legally for green cards.”

DTN added, “Under the bill, an estimated 800,000 to 1.1 million people working now in agriculture illegally would become legal through a “blue card” program. Farm workers who worked at least 100 days on a farm in 2011 or 2012 could get an agricultural working permit, or blue card, that also would give them mobility to move from job to job.

After working for up to seven years on U.S. farms, those blue-card workers could apply to be permanent residents. Under the legislation, all farmers also would have to use the federal E-Verify employment system to check on prospective hires.

Every employer would be phased in within a five-year period. All employers, including agricultural employers, would be phased in within four years.”

John McCain who fully appreciates the impact of making peace between Hispanics and the GOP summed it up, “We expect everybody to be unhappy. But I would point out that for the first time, you have the Farm Bureau, you have the ag worker, you have the Chamber of Commerce, you have the AFL-CIO, you have every major interest on both sides of this issue come together and are supporting this.

“Not because they like 100 percent of this, but because they think it’s the way to get immigration reform accomplished.”

This is about compromises which all landmark legislation is really about. This may be the best shot that anti-immigration reform conservatives have at shaping this bill because if they don’t, there will be fewer of them in office in the future to block it.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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