Feinstein to ICE: Stop targeting farm workers

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks 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.

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Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, first complained of the impact of worksite audits targeting agricultural workers more than a year ago.

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 Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Cornyn: Senate GOP tax plan to be released Thursday This week: GOP seeks to advance tax overhaul MORE (R-Fla.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBipartisan lawmakers can rebuild trust by passing infusion therapy bill GAO to investigate Trump's voter fraud commission 2 election integrity commission members protest lack of transparency MORE (D-Colo.) and Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchRead Senate GOP's tax bill Senate panel to start tax bill markup on Monday Senate set for clash with House on tax bill 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.