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Northwest Agriculture Industry Participates In National Immigration Forum

Anna King
Northwest News Network

Northwest agriculture advocates are more optimistic Congress will take up the issue of immigration after a forum this week in Washington, D.C. The effort is getting support from a surprising mix of organizations.

After the presidential election last month, scores of faith, law enforcement and business leaders gathered with an overhaul of the nation’s immigration policies as the goal. Northwest farmers are especially interested because many of them have been facing a serious worker shortage. But the effort is also getting support from some evangelicals, conservatives along with liberals.

“Those who are concerned about their families, if they’re not here without proper documentation -- they don’t get immersed they don’t get involved with the community. That’s not good for them as families and that’s not good for our communities,” says Bob Naerebout head of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. He is on the board for the forum this week in Washington, D.C.

Naerebout says the Idaho dairy industry for example employs more than 8,000 people. And like other agriculture industries in the Northwest, the vast majority of those workers are foreign born.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.