States that crack down on illegal immigrants should also help farmers who need seasonal labor, the nation's largest farm lobbying group said Tuesday.
And if Congress doesn't overhaul immigration, farmers will assist the federal government in helping states create programs that give growers access to enough legal labor, under a policy approved at the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The policy retains the Farm Bureau's long-held view that immigration policy should be set by the federal government.
"So far, all of these state programs have been on enforcement only," said David Winkles, president of the South Carolina Farm Bureau, whose members proposed the policy. "They don't address the fact that we don't have an adequate labor supply in agriculture."
In recent years, some state governments have passed laws attempting to crack down on illegal immigrants. A new wave of legislation is expected this year as politicians consider measures similar to a law passed in Arizona. Among other steps, the Arizona statute requires that police question the immigration status of people they have reason to suspect are in the country illegally.