Either Party Could Benefit From a Move on Immigration

Roll Call
October 17, 2012

Congress has been unable to make any progress on an immigration overhaul for years, but for voters such as dairy farmer Matt Lamb, the party that figures out a way forward will go a long way toward securing his vote. Lamb is a self-described conservative guy and a longtime Republican voter, but he’s considering casting his ballot for Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul and President Barack Obama because of what he calls his most important issue.

Lamb has more than 2,000 cows on his family farm that need to be milked three times a day, and he struggles to find the labor to do it. He puts ads in local papers but still is at pains to find adequate help. Lamb uses some foreign workers, but the current immigration system makes it almost impossible for him to get visas for potential new employees. And since the push for immigration changes during the George W. Bush administration, he’s seen the GOP move in what he thinks is the wrong direction on his key issue.

“Generally, agriculture votes Republican,” Lamb said in an interview earlier this month. “We traditionally have been [Republican] on this farm. But right now, being able to carry out our business is the single most important thing. I’m a single-issue voter: Where’s my labor going to come from?”

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New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…