By Benjamin Goad - 09/04/13 08:02 PM EDT
Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDems urge Obama to release info on Russian links to DNC hack Hotel lobby cheers scrutiny on Airbnb GOP platform attempts middle ground on encryption debate MORE is calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to halt enforcement actions against illegal farm workers and their employers, saying continued prosecutions could cripple the agriculture sector.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted that ICE had already stopped deporting certain illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.
“I respectfully suggest that you adopt a similar policy of exercising prosecutorial discretion to defer enforcement against agricultural employers and workers, and concentrate instead on removing those who would and have harmed our society, rather than those who contribute to our vital agricultural economy and heritage, and the safe and high-quality food supply that benefits all Americans,” Feinstein wrote.
She said the enforcement is hurting the economy in California — home to roughly 81,000 farms —and beyond at a time when the industry faces an acute worker shortage.
“Farmers from all across the United States have expressed the severe harm they have been suffering from the lack of willing and available domestic agricultural employees,” she wrote.
Feinstein, along with Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioFlorida: 'High likelihood' of first Zika transmission in the US Overnight Healthcare: Rubio presses Obama to spend Zika money | FDA moves ahead with trans fat ban The Trail 2016: Her big night MORE (R-Fla.), Michael BennetMichael BennetMcAuliffe: I wouldn't want a 'caretaker' in Kaine's Senate seat Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Bacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics MORE (D-Colo.) and Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Froman: Too early to start trade talks with the UK Bacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics MORE (R-Utah), crafted the agricultural worker component of the sweeping immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in June.
The House has yet to act on the legislation.