With trade and farm policies as well as immigration on the Trump administration’s front burners, Georgia’s former governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, and his cousin U.S. Sen. David Perdue are apt to be on the front lines of Washington’s New Year policy issues.
Sonny Perdue accompanied the president at the 2018 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 8. As head of an interagency effort, he described their travels throughout the country to meet with rural Americans.
In a formal statement released at the conference he said that since assuming his post as secretary he traveled to 30 states and undertook two RV tours covering more than 2,000 miles to identify the frustrations and needs of farmers throughout the country.
Based on their findings, he has proposed 100 recommendations to improve life in rural America, primarily by boosting Internet connectivity, quality of life, workforce preparedness, access to technology and economic development.
In addition, he spoke of developing “close cooperation with local, state and tribal leaders, 22 federal agencies, offices and executive departments” that “accepted the challenge to make rural America great again.”
The Trump administration also is expected to address trade, which despite being a hot button of his campaign has not received much attention in his first year aside from torpedoing the Transpacific Trade Partnership.
Reports out of Washington indicate that the administration is not entirely unified on just how rigorous its anti-trade policies should be, especially in regard to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Perdue has even indicated in the past that to eliminate it would have dire consequences for the economies of many states, especially in view that a quarter of what farmers produce in the U.S. is exported.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Aug. 9, Mr. Trump unexpectedly unveiled during a bi-partisan congressional meeting broaching the possibility of an immigration overhaul that would eventually grant millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.
The Republicans and Democrats attending were considering an agreement that would extend legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Mr. Trump ended protections under DACA with a deadline of March and charged Congress to come up with an alternative.
Sen. Perdue, who has introduced legislation to keep immediate family members related to legal immigrants and naturalized citizens from coming to the U.S., has taken a hard line against these so-called “Dreamers.”
Before Mr. Trump attended the College Football National Championship at Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta the evening of Aug. 8, his administration terminated the “Temporary Protected Status Program” for an estimated 200,000 Salvadorans who were admitted to the U.S. due to devastation caused by an earthquake that destroyed their homes and livelihoods in El Salvador in 2001.
The Salvadorans are to be gone by September 2019.