Utica-area Rep. Richard Hanna is one Republican who expects to be on board with any immigration reform that is being proposed in Washington currently. The 22nd Congressional District representative says it's an important issue in a region where agriculture is key.
Hanna says he's heard about the labor crisis facing the dairy industry ever since he came into office. Farmers tell him they can't find enough documented employees to work the farm.
"Why would we want to make criminals out of dairy farmers simply because they want to run their business, when we know there are people available to do the work?" said Hanna.
That's one reason Hanna backs immigration reform, noting that this issue has a major impact on a state's economy that is tied closely to agriculture, including his district, which includes central New York and the Southern Tier.
"It's important that New Yorkers find a legal way to help people come here, do the work they want to do, know who they are, where they are how they contribute, what they cost, have a way to find those people and if necessary send them back," said Hanna. "But our process today is out of control."
Hanna says just the fact that there are 11 million undocumented workers in this country points to the fact that something has to be done.
He has in the past sponsored legislation to help Northeast dairy farms hire legal workers for extended periods of time.