During Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's visit to Idaho last week, the Trump administration official met with state leaders on a range of issues. He took a tour of the state Capitol in Boise alongside Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and met with dairy producers and other agriculture leaders.
Perdue told reporters later on Friday the question of what to do about undocumented workers who fill agriculture jobs across the country is something he has talked with President Trump about often.
Perdue recognizes the role undocumented immigrants play in Idaho’s ag sector.
“Particularly dairy producers – [they] have year-round needs," he says. "And I hope to submit to the president a policy that he can feel good about, and the United States of America can feel good about. Because there are jobs out there that we cannot find American workers to fulfill.”
The former governor of Georgia has had experience on the topic: As the top executive of that state, he supported a crackdown on undocumented workers. The result? Jobs in Georgia peach orchards went unfilled as growers struggled to find Americans who would do the hard manual labor.
Now on the national stage, Perdue says he’s hired a lawyer to look into the labor woes of farm owners – but didn’t go so far as to endorse a pathway to citizenship for those working illegally in Idaho’s potato fields and dairy farms.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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