US wants separate immigration system for agricultural workers


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The Trump administration’s hard-line immigration stance may not apply to agricultural workers, according to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

At an industry conference, the cabinet official said that the White House supports a separate immigration process for farm workers.

“The people who come to America to work on farms and ranches are not taking jobs from Americans,” Perdue said according to Reuters. “They are not the ones putting a burden on criminal justice system or welfare system.”

Perdue’s comments underline the agricultural sector’s dependence on immigrants. Almost 80 percent of the industry’s workers are foreign-born, mainly from Mexico, according to a survey from the U.S. Department of Labor. Roughly 53 percent are undocumented, meaning that their work is illegal.

This is not the first time the Trump administration has implied that undocumented farmworkers will be treated less harshly. President Donald J. Trump met with industry leaders in May 2017, and told farm owners that he was focused on deporting criminals not farmers, according to Reuters.

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