Albert Mbanfu, Executive Director, Bowling Green International Center; Dalton Workman, Chairman, WKU College Republican; and H.H. Barlow, Owner, Barlu Farms, Presidential Appointee to US Board for International Food & Agriculture Development speak in favor of national immigration reform during the press conference at the International Center in Bowling Green, Ky.
A coalition of business, political, and refugee-rights groups in south-central Kentucky is calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.
As part of a so-called national “Day of Action”, representatives from various backgrounds spoke Wednesday in Bowling Green about the need for Congressional leaders and the Obama Administration to get reform passed this year.
Barren County dairy farmer H.H. Barlow, a presidential appointee to the U.S. Board for International Food and Agriculture Development, said many Americans don’t understand the impact immigrant labor has on sectors such as the agriculture industry.
“I hate the word ‘criminals’, or ‘illegal aliens’—I don’t like that term. They’re workers. They’re performing an essential service to our country,” Barlow said.
The Barren County farmer said he speaks to his elected representatives about the need for immigration reform each time he sees them. Barlow believes that reform will not only benefit immigrants, but also the U.S. economy.
Digging into the nitty gritty of immigration law, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that some immigrant children who turn 21 while their parents' immigration application is still pending have to go to the back of the line and start over.
The Associated Press explains:
"The justices on Monday sided with the Obama administration in ruling that immigration laws do not let children who age out of the system qualify for visas.
Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator is expressing doubts on the prospects of major immigration law overhaul this year.
Republican Mitch McConnell told reporters he doesn’t believe House and Senate leaders will be able to overcome their differences. Senator McConnell describes the differences between the House and Senate as an “irresolvable conflict.” The website Politico reports the Louisville Republican says the problem isn’t specific policy differences between the two chambers, but rather how each side wants to move forward procedurally.
Some Senate Democrats have said they want to tackle immigration overhaul in a comprehensive fashion, by putting all changes in one massive bill.
House Republicans have spoken in support of taking on the issue step-by-step, and passing several smaller bills along the way. While President Obama and some Congressional Democrats have recently indicated they’d be willing to look at piecemeal reform, McConnell says the gulf between the two parties is too great to get reform passed this year.
McConnell is facing a Senate primary challenge this spring by Tea Party activist Matt Bevin, who says he’s opposed to any measure that offers amnesty to illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Nearly 50 immigrants from 23 countries will become U.S. citizens in a ceremony Friday at Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky. The ceremony is possible through an agreement between the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Park Service.
"There have been a number of them at Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty...and of course national parks are so American, and they're public land, so they belong to all American citizens," says Mammoth Cave Public Information Officer Vickie Carson.
The ceremony will take place inside a cave and feature remarks from Mammoth Cave's deputy superintendent Bruce Powell, a naturalized citizen himself. Mammoth Cave last hosted a citizenship ceremony in 2011.
Kentuckians concerned with agriculture, business and education spoke out in favor of the latest federal immigration proposal during a phone conference organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy.
The immigration proposal is being considered in the U.S. Senate, thanks to a compromise by a group of eight senators from both political parties.
The plan would create a 13-year path to citizens, expand work visas and attempts to tighten border security.
H.H. Barlow, a dairy farmer in Barren County, says he supports the compromise because farms like his need more immigrant workers in Kentucky.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says the U.S. needs to “find a place” for undocumented immigrant workers. The Bowling Green Republican addressed the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, in what many analysts are seeing as another sign that Paul is preparing for a 2016 presidential run.
While he never used the word “citizenship” in his speech, Paul promised to be what he called “part of the solution” on immigration reform, saying the nation needs to create some form of legal status for undocumented immigrants. Addressing his audience, the Kentucky Senator said "if you wish to work, if you wish to live in America, then we will find a place for you.” Paul says his position is a middle ground between amnesty and deportation, saying conservative members of his party must acknowledge the country can’t deport 12 million illegal immigrants.
The remarks are a major reversal of Paul’s earlier positions, which included calls for a constitutional amendment ending birthright citizenship and a proposal to build an underground electric fence along the length of the southern U.S. border.
The presidents of Kentucky's public universities have signed a letter urging the state's U.S. senators to help overhaul the immigration system.
The letter, dated Tuesday and addressed to Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, said American universities educate some of the world's top international students only to see some of them leave under current immigration policies and work for competing companies abroad.
"Kentucky cannot afford to wait to fix our immigration system," the letter stated. "As we send away highly skilled workers trained at Kentucky and other American universities, competing international economies are welcoming these scientists and engineers."
The letter calls for a bipartisan solution to ensure these graduates have a clear path to a green card.
WKU Public Radio's conversation with Rep. Brett Guthrie on immigration reform
Kentucky's Second District Congressman says it makes no sense for U.S. colleges to graduate so many highly-skilled foreign students without a way to let them stay in this country if they choose. Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie says any attempt to overhaul America's immigration laws must make it easier for more US college graduates from other countries who have desirable skills to work here.
Rep. Guthrie says he came to this belief after attending a WKU graduation, and noticing how many of those getting master's degrees in fields of science were foreign-born.
"It just really hit me. A lot of our master's programs--not just this university--but other world class universities are graduating a lot of people who are foreign nationals, and we don't let them stay here and work and contribute to what we're trying to do here in the United States."
The Kentucky Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments over whether a truck driver can benefit from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling over what advice attorneys must give non-citizens about possible deportations.