The Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon recently distributed an opinion piece through the state GOP email, falsely claiming Idaho is trying to turn blue. This is a petty talking point to pander to a small group of people and divide the GOP. Her statistics regarding Senate Joint Memorial 101 (SJM101) were far-fetched – here’s the facts from someone actually involved in the agriculture industry, which is one of many in need of immigration reform.
Last week, 25 Senators voted yes on SJM101, calling on the Federal government to strengthen our national security by increasing border control, improving the system for entry and exit of guest workers, and ensuring our citizens have a secure, domestic food supply.
Let’s cut through the noise – here are the facts about SJM101.
Chairwoman Moon claims “America admits over 180 million legal immigrants every year”. How is this possible? The U.S. only has 332 million residents. So – what she’s saying is over half our total population is added to the country each year. FALSE.
The truth, 1.8 million legal guest workers were admitted through visa programs in 2021, to support not only agriculture, but construction, technology, hospitality, manufacturing, and other labor-intensive industries. Chairwoman Moon inflated the “reality” by 100 times to simply create dissent and division within the party she claims to lead.
Chairwoman Moon claims immigrants take jobs away from American workers. FALSE.
The fact is, Americans are not lining up to work in our fields and food processing plants. Any employer wishing to bring in a temporary worker on a visa must first show proof they tried to hire an American first – but if no local applies, employers are obliged to rely on guest workers to get the job done. Don’t you want to have a domestic source of food? I know I do. We should reject a path that leads to dependence on foreign states for our food supply.
Chairwoman Moon alleges this issue is about “supply and demand” claiming “American workers haven’t seen a real wage increase in 40 years”. FALSE.
The truth, the current minimum wage of $7.25 was set in 2009, 14 years ago. The ag industry offers twice that, at an average hourly rate of $15.68. Even accounting for inflation, wages are up, and yet so still is the demand for labor that goes unfilled.
Chairwoman Moon claims working immigrants are subsidized by the government. FALSE.
The employer must pay for all transportation and housing. The immigrant worker then must pay federal and state taxes. Fearmongering from political buzzwords is a tactical goal to scare people. In realty, guest workers are NOT granted amnesty or permanent residence status. SJM101 does NOT offer any path to U.S. citizenship. Rather, SJM101 calls for punishments for those who cross our borders illegally, including a misdemeanor fine and a lifetime ban from seeking U.S. citizenship. NONE of this is amnesty.
No reasonable American is asking for a flood of illegal immigrants to take over the labor market. But because only the Federal government has the authority to regulate immigration, Idaho is taking a stand to demand necessary changes now.
The Idaho GOP platform calls for a strong and viable agriculture industry. Right now, Idaho’s farmers are in desperate need of workers to ensure we all have food on our table each day. The Federal government’s lack of action on immigration is putting the future of our farmers at risk.
We applaud the common goal of Senate Joint Memorial 101 and the 25 Senators who voted in favor of putting the interests of our state’s critical industries before inflammatory statements made to hit political talking points.
Idaho citizens stand with its vital industries – so should the GOP and all elected officials.
by Celia Gould, Rancher and Former Director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture
This Op-Ed was submitted by Celia Gould. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: Agriculture, Amnesty, Dorothy Moon, Idaho Farmers, Idaho GOP, Illegal Immigration, Immigration Policy, Immigration Reform, SJM101