Best Of The Border (4/29-5/3)

May 4, 2013

Immigration Reform and the Dairy Industry

Agricultural workers are given a fast-track to citizenship in the bipartisan Senate proposal for immigration reform. The dairy industry across the Midwest and the Southwest relies heavily on immigrant labor. In Wisconsin at least half the dairy farm workers are undocumented.

At John Rosenow's farm near the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin workers milk 550 cows round the clock. Rosenow explains that when his dairy farm expanded a few decades ago, he couldn't recruit local workers to help him out. So now he relies on many immigrants from Mexico to keep his business going.

""My livelihood totally and completely depends on these people doing all this work," Rosenow said. "My retirement, everything would pretty much go out the window."

Rosenow has lobbied in Washington for immigration reforms that would allow these workers to obtain valid Social Security Cards and to get driver's licenses and passports. The current reform proposals make him optimistic.

The Mormon Church and Missionaries Without Documents

The Mormon church has doubled its Latino congregation in the United States since 2000, and some of those members are in this country without legal documentation. What happens when a young Latino Mormon without papers is called upon to serve his or her religious mission?

The personal story of a Latino missionary named Isaac explores the challenges facing the church and its new Latino members. The church has developed a policy of assigning missionaries without documents to areas within driving distance of home, so they are less likely to confront legal difficulties.

Isaac's mission took him to nearby Denver where he happened to meet a woman whose father baptized Isaac's father in Mexico. Isaac's father had passed away, but meeting this woman made a strong connection for him between his father and his faith.

President Obama's Visit to Mexico

President Barack Obama traveled to Mexico this week to meet with new Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Mexicans in Monterrey talked about how they would like to see the U.S.-Mexico relationship develop and how the past emphasis on violence and the drug war has obscured economic development and growth in that country.

Manuel Montoya directs an alliance of automotive companies in Monterrey. He doesn't like the way his country is viewed by many in the U.S.

"They used to treat us like Kabul or like Beirut, but you can't compare. This doesn't help our business."

Still others in this part of Mexico remain concerned about what they call the "insecurity."

Skepticism About High-Tech Visa Reform

The high-tech industry is excited about the prospect of expanding the H-1B visa program under comprehensive immigration reform. They have long been lobbying for more visas, arguing that U.S. schools are not producing enough STEM graduates.

Turns out that might not be the case, as recent economic studies have indicated that many U.S. science, technology, engineering and math graduates are not getting jobs in their fields, and that wages in that industry are stagnating. Is the high-tech industry just trying to secure a less expensive workforce?

Two H-1B visa holders discuss their skepticism about the proposed expansion of the program.

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