The head of the Texas Department of Agriculture says he has a solution to part of the long running immigration controversy. The plan, according to Commissioner Sid Miller, specifically targets migrant workers and is not a break away from the immigration policy by the Trump Administration.
From his ornate 11th floor office in Austin, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller posed in the suede leather jacket he got on his trip to south Texas. The gift came from the Governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and was presented last week while the two officials met on a border bridge in Laredo.
"It's a little different perspective if you are standing on that international bridge thank if you are viewing it from Washington DC or Mexico City,” said Commissioner Miller.
Monday morning Miller told FOX 7 that he and Governor Cabeza de Vaca want the leaders of their nations to make a similar trip before work begins expanding the border wall.
"My message to the Governor, and the president of Mexico, Nieto, is that don’t take your jacks and go home, stay and be involved, if we are going to build a wall you really ought to have some input in it, give us your ideas, work through education, cooperation, collaboration and partner with us on it, you may not like it, but if you turn your back you won’t have any input on it."
Miller's initial comments, while in Laredo, where originally interpreted by some media outlets as a break from the Trump administration. But the commissioner, who was among the first state leaders to endorse Trump's presidential campaign and was also a contender to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, clarified his position.
"I saw that headline, I don’t know where they got that, I mean I agree with Trump, we are going to build the wall, I agree with Trump, we need to redo NAFTA, I agree with Trump, we need to address Immigration reform, I may have a little softer kinder approach, one with collaboration and cooperation, maybe not quite as heavy handed, but I just call that using a little cowboy logic, you know trying to get along with our neighbors, be respectful of them and not abuse that relationship.” said Miller.
The recent round up by ICE agents of undocumented immigrants spurred protests and work stoppages. To address concerns voiced by migrant families, and Texas businesses that rely on them, Commissioner Miller is pitching a new Visa program.
"The biggest problem is, they over stay their Visa and kind go out and are not heard from again. There is no incentive for them to return and fulfill the obligations of the program, and my suggestion is, using again some cowboy logic, is to use the carrot and get the incentive to leave when their Visa is up to return to Mexico, and come back for a second work year,” said Miller.
The plan involves withholding a portion of paychecks. The final payment would come after the worker returns home. The amount held, according to Miller, could decrease the longer the worker is in the program.
"That would make building the wall much easier, because you take the necessity to cross illegally, and give them a pathway to legally come up here and work, all of a sudden that border is much easier to secure, the only people we have to watch out for is smugglers.
Miller said the Trump administration seems receptive to his idea but made no commitment to it. While he believes it will be a big step in improving relations and commerce, Miller's Visa plan is only designed for migrant workers not immigrants and would not be a fast track to citizenship.
Commissioner Miller also spoke about the concern the expansion of the border wall - will result in a federal land grab. The amount of land needed, according to the commissioner, will be small and that farmers will still have access to their property even if the wall cuts across their land.