Feinstein to ICE: Stop targeting farm workers

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back Democrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills 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 RubioGOP lawmaker on Iran: Congress should vote on 'what's worthy of spilling American blood and what isn't' The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider? Trump faces skepticism about Iran war authority from both parties MORE (R-Fla.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights MORE (D-Colo.) and Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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.