Trump softens immigration stance

Securing border will take precedence over mass deportation of illegal immigrants.

One of president-elect Donald Trump’s pillar campaign promises was that he would build a wall and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. In the days after his election, he’s already taken a more programmatic approach to the nation’s immigration woes.

When meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), Trump said they agreed that immigration was an area where they could quickly work together. Ryan confirmed that securing the border between the U.S. and Mexico will be the first priority.

“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” Ryan said. “Donald Trump is not planning on that. That’s not what we’re focused on. We’re focused on securing the border. We think that’s first and foremost before we get into any other immigration issue. We’ve got to know who’s coming and going in the country."

Trump did note in his interview on 60 Minutes Sunday that he is looking to deport the “people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers” either out of the country or incarcerate them. He estimated there are 2 million of those individuals. “We’re getting them out of our country; they’re here illegally.”

After the border is secure, Trump indicated that he is going to make a determination on the “terrific people” who are already living and working in our country.   

In talking points agreed upon by Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, it said “Trump recognizes the unique labor challenges facing the American farm community and will include farmers and ranchers in the process of determining the best possible immigration policies.”

The American Dairy Coalition said it has been in close contact with Ryan’s office and will continue to work with him along with other Republican leaders to ensure the industry has access to a reliable labor force. “This is vital to maintain and grow dairy, livestock and agriculture businesses in the United States,” Lauri Fischer, chief executive officer of the American Dairy Coalition, said.

U.S. food and agricultural production is highly dependent on migrant labor, particularly in sectors such as produce, animal protein and food service operators. Assuming a stronger stance against illegal immigration, small business owners may face higher operating costs as a result of labor shortages, which would pressure their margins, Rabobank said in a report from its Food & Agricultural team.

Rabobank added that U.S. agricultural producers have already been facing rising labor costs and lower labor availability, caused by increasing opportunities for laborers in Mexico, decreased birth rates in Mexico and stricter immigrations laws. 

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