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Pritzker suggests employing recently arrived undocumented migrants on farms

Photo caption: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur Tuesday (

Gov. J.B. Pritzker suggests allowing the influx of migrants who have arrived in Illinois to be workers on farms throughout the state. The notion has drawn questions.

Around 12,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago and other parts of the state over the past year. At a stop in Decatur to the Farm Progress Show Tuesday for an unrelated news event, Pritzker was asked about utilizing such workers on farms.

“What we have said is, we think they ought to have the ability to get jobs, and we have jobs available in Illinois,” Pritzker said. “In the ag [agricultural] community, we have jobs available.”

Pritzker went on to say that he believed the workers could benefit Illinois farms.

“I think it is a vitally important step forward,” Pritzker said. “Could it be great for the ag community? Of course, it could be, and you’ve seen that there is more and more work that needs to be done.”

The state currently offers the H-2A program that allows permitted immigrants to work on farms after having gone through background checks and other vetting practices.

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, told The Center Square that with Pritzker’s plan, there is no way to police who would be coming to work on their properties.

“There is nothing set up for this to work,” Meier said. “The programs that we have that we use are vetted. We know who is coming, and we have some background on them.”

Meier, who runs a farm of his own, said he could use the extra help but does not support the idea of using undocumented workers.

“The ones that we have here working, a lot of farms use, and we need workers,” Meier said. “It seems like you should have to come legally into this country to do that. That’s my opinion on that.”

Pritzker will be in Chicago Wednesday with members of Congress and business groups promoting the idea of allowing undocumented migrants work allowance. Tuesday, he said he doesn’t want to “necessarily” encourage illegal immigration.

“Once people have spent several months here waiting for what is a require hearing that they’re just waiting, these hearings have been delayed because so many migrants have come to the United States and so we ought to let people work after a certain amount of time,” Pritzker said.

So far, city and state taxpayers have set aside $94 million for migrant housing. The state budget has $550 million in taxpayer subsidies for the health care of migrants over the age of 65. Pritzker also recently signed legislation that allows certain migrants to become police officers.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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