United Fresh Pitches Immigration Reform Needs to Commerce Sec.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, spoke to the United Fresh Produce Association's board of directors during a special conference call to discuss immigration reform.

Sec. Gutierrez commended the United Fresh members for working to communicate the importance of comprehensive immigration reform to Congress and across the nation. However, he noted that some in Congress still do not truly understand the need for immigration reform, and that more work must be done at this very critical time.

Describing a situation in which the vocal minority is being heard above those who support AgJobs and reasonable immigration reform, Gutierrez urged the all supporters of immigration reform to educate those who do not understand the importance of comprehensive reform.

"We applaud Secretary Gutierrez and the Bush Administration for the leadership and active participation in this effort to resolve a critical, yet highly complex issue," said United Fresh president Tom Stenzel. "Senate Majority Leader Reed and Minority Leader McConnell have shown leadership in allowing the debate on immigration reform to continue this week and we must continue to push for a comprehensive bill."

Senate leaders announced last Thursday that they would allow the bill a second chance, after the bill was sidetracked two weeks ago. Gutierrez told the United Fresh Board that if the bill passes the Senate, a similar battle will likely take place in the House. He stressed the important role that the House will play in final passage of a bill, and emphasized the need for the industry to maintain the course and make their voices heard throughout the halls of Congress.

Responding to a question from the Board about why Congress does not understand the need for reform, Gutierrez said that some in Congress need to better understand the true economic impact of immigration reform on agricultural and on businesses.
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