Q&A: Ready Pac Foods CEO Tony Sarsam Talks Trump's DACA Ruling
- by Jordan Okumura
IRWINDALE, CA - The 2017 political landscape has been dynamic this year, and that is putting it lightly. As our livelihood is concentrated in the agricultural sector, the fresh produce industry has been more engaged than ever. With President Trump’s recent announcement to rescind the intensely debated Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), the dialogue is heating up across industries.
For a little refresher, DACA, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is a program “where certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.”
With that said Ready Pac Foods CEO Tony Sarsam reached out to us to share his response to the administration’s decision and what it means to him, his company, the industry, and his impression of the future impact on the “Dreamer” recipients, as well as our culture as a whole. Please join us for this Q&A with the industry pioneer.
Q: Tony, what is your point of view when it comes to the recent DACA ruling and its impact on the industry?
Tony Sarsam: I’m very disappointed about President Trump’s decision to end DACA. It’s completely unnecessary to cause duress for the Dreamers, who are trying to make a difference, be productive members of society, and gain an education.
This decision doesn’t just affect the produce and fresh food industries, it impacts our entire culture, of which our industry is only a small subset. Our society needs productive, educated people who want to be here and want to make a difference. The kids participating in DACA are those people.
The recent DACA ruling, while hopefully temporary, sends the wrong message to those immigrants who are trying to be a part of our society in a productive way.
Q: What would you like to see, and hope can be done in the wake of this decision?
TS: Congress needs to take action and legislate. There’s a groundswell among the constituents of the vast majority of our congressmen to say “let’s do exactly that, let’s have immigration reform.” While there’s a current debate about broad immigration reform, there’s not much debate about DACA.
A recent poll in The Atlantic showed 80+ percent of Americans are in favor of DACA and, importantly, 72 percent of Republicans are in favor of DACA in some way, shape, or form. Congress has a great opportunity to show progress and allow Dreamers to have a path toward citizenship and be recognized as our brothers and sisters.
Q: How do you see immigration in its entirety, impacting this industry as we move forward?
TS: Of the 319 million citizens of the Unites States, all are the result of immigrants. Immigration is in our blood. It’s in our DNA. We are all immigrants. We are the mother of all immigrant countries and have to position ourselves that way.
Society must showcase the benefits that come from a diverse nation. Everything we’ve achieved is because of our country’s immigrant-rich history. Our best thinkers, entrepreneurs and inventions are because of our ability to work with the best and brightest people–regardless of ethnicity.
Our industry is quite beholden to immigrants for everything from the people running our companies to the people working in agricultural fields. Every place and every facet of our industry is dependent on the great work that immigrants and first-generation Americans can bring. We are almost disproportionately beholden to that group and need to work harder to make sure they can find a place.
Q: What is your message to the industry?
TS: My message to the industry is to work for justice. There’s a lot of debate about how you handle immigration and what immigration policy is. But, how can anyone find fault with a child who is trying to find his or her way and make a positive impact on our nation?
I think this is something we can all agree on–whether we’re Democrat or Republican, everyone can agree DACA is a good program for our nation.
I encourage everyone to write their congressmen to voice their opinions. We need to make opportunities available for the Dreamers as they graduate school and become adults.
The administration has given Congress six months to come up with a solution before the federal government officially stops renewing permits for current DACA recipients. As the debate continues, stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we bring you voices from across the industry.