Immigration Reform Debate Re-ignited by Cantor Loss

House Majority Leader lost to candidate who campaigned against amnesty

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Political observers say David Brat's tough stand against amnesty for undocumented immigrants helped propel him to victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia primary election.

Its also breathed new life into what remains a very sensitive debate here on the Central Coast.

Agriculture remains one of the key economic engines on the Central Coast.

Local farmers, growers and ranchers have been warning for awhile now that could change without some form of federal immigration reform.

Central Coast farmers, growers and ranchers have long been sounding the alarm about a growing labor shortage.

"The fact of the matter is we just don't have enough people to come in and work", said one local lettuce farmer to Central Coast News.

Some economic studies have Central Coast agriculture accounting for some 40 percent of the workforce in the region and more than 65 percent of all new jobs.

Those closely involved with Central Coast Agriculture say amnesty is not really the key, issue its more comprehensive immigration reform.

"We need a guest worker program, we need border security and we need a cogent plan for the people who came here without permission", says Andy Caldwell with the Coalition of Agriculture, Labor and Business or COLAB, "but to go for blanket amnesty without dealing with the other issues is not a popular opinion or tact to take."

"Amnesty doesn't really work for us either", Caldwells says, "we want a guest worker program, border security, and a process, an eventual process toward citizenship for the people that are here, but its got to be respective of the people that have been waiting in line dutifully and legally all these years to come across."

Despite stepped up border security between California and Mexico, thousands of children of undocumented immigrants are pouring into the country everyday believing there will be some form of official amnesty.

"We discovered yesterday that the Port Hueneme {U.S. Naval Base} is a base that is having illegal immigrant children being brought there for shelter", Caldwell says, "I think it is an issue for Congresswoman Capps to address since its in her backyard."

The Department of Homeland Security says there's been a surge in the past year in the number of children of undocumented immigrants coming across the southern border illegally.

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