U.S. Representative Lynn Westmoreland’s remarks on immigration and Vidalia onions this week to the Senoia Tea Party Patriots in Coweta County briefly had pundits sifting the political tea leaves about the popular Congressman’s intent. Westmoreland told the tea party activists, “You better buy all you can this year” because next year “there’s not going to be anybody to pick them.” An early supporter of strict immigration legislation, Westmoreland left observers wondering about his message. Was it to offer cover to Governor Deal and Westmoreland constituent State Representative Matt Ramsey, author of last year’s tough immigration bill, to make changes requested by farmers?
Typically a “chips fall where they may” kind of guy, Westmoreland’s style is not to seek or provide political cover. So, the answer came later this week. Congressmen Kingston and Westmoreland introduced reform legislation on the H-2A visa that allows farmers to access foreign born workers legally. Current rules governing H-2A simply don’t work, increasing the incentive for laborers to come here illegally and farmers to employ them.
Interestingly, the move was applauded by some key conservatives, including the influential Peach Pundit blog.