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Fruit leader offers immigration solution

The president of the California Fresh Fruit Association says immigration could be solved with Congress doing what it can and the president doing the rest by agreement with Mexico.
Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Published on July 18, 2018 9:37AM

In this Sept. 24, 2013 file photo taken near Fresno, Calif., farmworkers pick paper trays of dried raisins off the ground and heap them onto a trailer in the final step of raisin harvest. The president of the California Fresh Fruit Association says immigration could be solved with Congress doing what it can and the president doing the rest by agreement with Mexico.

Gosia Wozniacka/Associated Press File

In this Sept. 24, 2013 file photo taken near Fresno, Calif., farmworkers pick paper trays of dried raisins off the ground and heap them onto a trailer in the final step of raisin harvest. The president of the California Fresh Fruit Association says immigration could be solved with Congress doing what it can and the president doing the rest by agreement with Mexico.

George Radanovich, president of California Fresh Fruit Association.

Courtesy of CFFA

George Radanovich, president of California Fresh Fruit Association.


Congress will never pass immigration reform but there is a solution that could work, says the president of the California Fresh Fruit Association.

Congress could pass the portions it’s comfortable with, E-verify and border protection, and the president could do the rest, guestworker reform and legal status for existing domestic workers, through a trade or executive agreement with the new president of Mexico.

That’s the idea of George Radanovich, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association in Fresno and the former Republican congressman of California’s 19th Congressional District from 1995 to 2011.

“We could end illegal immigration once and for all with E-verify (electronic verification of employment eligibility) and border protection but to do that we need a guestworker program and adjusting the status of those here. Congress will never do that,” Radanovich said.

His solution: Congress does what it can. And at near the same time, the president does the rest.

A trade or executive agreement between President Donald Trump and the new Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would not need congressional approval and would be on more solid legal standing than the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that former President Barack Obama did by executive order, Radanovich said.

Obama did his Iran deal through an executive agreement and it was upheld in court, he said.

A future president could undo such an agreement, as Trump undid the Iran deal, but it can be hard to undo, he said.

“I was in Washington for 16 years and this thought never occurred to me. It’s never been thought of before when historically initial guestworker programs have been functions of the executive branch,” he said.

Trump has domestic policy advisors who either don’t want a responsible end to the issue or won’t allow illegal Mexicans to stay in the country, Radanovich said.

“The president has to decide if he wants to end illegal immigration once and for all that he has to take the initiative with Mexico,” he said.

Mexico has a trade agreement with Canada that allows Mexicans to go to and from Canada to work, he said.

Guestworkers could even be charged an entry fee at the border to help pay for a border wall, he said.

He said he’s talked to members of Congress, administration and Mexican embassy officials who are interested.

“It’s really a solution where there are not many out there,” he said. “It’s the only way to resolve it without harming western agriculture. Seventy percent of specialty agriculture requiring labor is in the West. If anyone can come up with a better plan, I’d dare them.”



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