Immigration is a big, big deal in agricultural communities. Fruit growers, who often vote Republican, know how important immigrant labor is to their industry, so they back common sense reform.
No part of American agriculture would benefit more from a temporary worker program than our bountiful Yakima Valley – rightfully known as the Fruit Bowl of the Nation.
But apparently Charles Ross, Yakima’s newly elected state representative and lifelong resident of these parts, is a picture of confusion on this vital national and regional issue.
Sunday’s Herald-Republic carried a full-page ad – in purple ink – that delivered this thunderous message: “WE SUPPORT COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM.”
The hundreds of names was a list of the pillars of agricuture in Central Washington: the decision-makers, major employers, orchardists, growers, packers and suppliers, many of them members of pioneer families who founded the state’s tree fruit industry.
This impressive group of industry leaders implored Congress to pass an immigration reform package that will strengthen Yakima Valley ag in particular and the American economy in general.
Fast forward to Tuesday’s Herald-Republic and read where Rep. Ross had committed to speak at a rally in downtown Yakima hosted by Grassroots on Fire – a racist organization viscerally opposed to immigration reform of any kind.
Ross canceled his appearance. But the very notion of this legislator playing footsie with the extreme right wing is disturbing to say the least. If he read Sunday’s paper, he probably saw the names of the very people who got him elected last fall – his voter base, solidly rooted in ag.
The GOP doesn’t know who to listen to- their business base or their crazy, racist/nativist base. All the while, the latino/hispanic vote, after flirting with the GOP in ’00 through ’04, is running away from the GOP.