Farmer, tea-partier and U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier reiterated his support for Arizona's anti-immigration law at this weekend's state Republican convention. Then he went one step further and suggested that the country should stop giving citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants even if they're born here.
Easy for him to say. Many other farmers in this state rely on immigrants, legal or otherwise, to do the backbreaking, low-paying work that native-born Americans eschew. Didier, however, almost certainly has less demanding labor needs.The crops on his federally-subsidized Pasco farm include wheat and barley, both of which are usually harvested with machines (see picture of one harvesting wheat above). Such farmers may need only an extra driver or two, according to Steve Appel, himself a wheat and barley farmer who is president of the Washington Farm Bureau, an organization comprised of farmers throughout the state. Contrast that with apple or cherry farmers, who typically use dozens of laborers to pick and thin the fruit.
Appel doesn't directly criticize Didier's immigration stands. But the Washington Farm Bureau president does say that "most farmers" view the Arizona law "as addressing one side of the issue but not the other." If you clamp down on illegal immigration but don't make it easier for immigrant workers to come here legally, he says, "you're actually creating a worse problem."
Similarly, Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, another organization that advocates for farmers, bemoans a one-sided "reactionary approach" that "panders to anti-immigration hysteria." Gempler, in recent years, has come out firmly for comprehensive immigration reform that would not only tighten the borders but provide a way for illegal immigrants already here to get citizenship.
Didier could not be immediately reached for comment. While the candidate on his Web site does call for revamping the country's guest worker program, used to bring a limited number of immigrants here on a temporary basis, he's clearly more interested in restricting citizenship than in expanding it. And his rhetoric on the site--praising the Arizona governor for her "courage," for instance--seems far more suited to the Tea Party crowd than to his peers, at least those who don't have the luxury of letting a hulking piece of machinery do their work