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Farmers Become Unlikely Ally in Push Against E-Verify

Farmers Become Unlikely Ally in Push Against E-Verify

 

Democrats are not the only ones to come out in praise of immigrants, documented or not, and the contributions they bring to American communities and pushing back against the increasingly severe anti-immigration legislation being pushed by the right.  Farmers across the country are uniting against Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) E-Verify bill.

The bill would force farmers, and all employers, to verify the legal immigration status of their workers through a database run and managed by the Department of Homeland Security.  Farmers worry that if passed they’ll lose workers in an industry that relies on cheap, seasonal and immediate labor and a marketplace accustomed to cheap, immediately available food.

But more importantly, more farmers are seeing the measure as a way to specifically alienate a group of hardworking laborers based on nothing more than personal animus.

Their concerns have gotten the attention of at least a few lawmakers in Washington, leading even Rep. Smith to re-consider the breadth of his original E-Verify bill.  According to the New York Times, Smith said he plans to introduce a separate bill to “address the needs of the agriculture industry”.  What that bill is remains to be seen.  It could propose changes to H-2A, the current federal temporary farm worker program, or it could be to offer a new guest worker program.

As is often the case, once a human face is put on these kinds of measures the tone, and the intentions, can change.  Farmers used to represent a solid, and reliable Democratic voting block until Republicans succeeded at campaigning principally on social issues.  Perhaps that’s about to change as well.

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70 comments

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9:25AM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

I don’t know why those who believe farm work has to have substandard wages, can’t seem to hear that, even during the “Great Depression” farm workers have been brought into the US on a temporary basis for the seasonal work. This is still being done in Nova Scotia and both the workers, the public, and the farmers are very happy with the arrangement, which is NOT the case in the US.

2:19PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

If farmers lose access to some of the skilled workers who pick fruit, plant vegetables and care for crops, food prices will certainly rise. However, this will not be a basic supply-and-demand equation, in which farmers simply would need to offer higher wages to attract American workers to the fields. In fact, many farmers already advertise jobs — with competitive wages, housing and transportation — to U.S. citizens to no avail, as part of the required process for then legally hiring skilled foreign guest workers through the U.S. government’s H-2A program.

The reality is that right now there are simply not enough trained and willing American agricultural workers to get these jobs done. By removing some of the current skilled but undocumented workers from the equation, food prices would rise not because worker pay would improve, but rather because jobs would go unfilled, apples would go unpicked and food would be in short supply.

Benjamin Shute, a farmer

2:10PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

David. M. YOU are an illegal! Leave this country immediately or we will send you back/put you in jail!
The rest of you so hippocratic about immigration. Why don't you or your children go and work in those farms, pick fruit and vegetables with no healthcare, peanuts for salaries and no job security. See how you like it! You really think that Americans would do this kind of job for what the farmers pay? And if Americans worked in that industry and were payed more money, who would buy that expensive produce?

6:27PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

A separate bill may be a goodidea since immigration is not a one size fits all issue. It's good to have rules and regulations, but they must be tailored for each possible contingency and created for valid and relevant purposes and not with the intent of solely alienating those that nativists feel are inferior by virtue of race, country of origin, etc.

6:11PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

Who's fooling 'who here"? Some of these workers 'never' go home but instead bring in their entire families and crowd into some slum lords apartments..........using our schools, emergency rooms and causing all of our taxes and premiums to climb climb climb....I know, it's happened to this old woman and each and every month I have to 'put out' more because of 'special programs' for the illegals and lazies of our own on welfare instead of pulling their boot straps up and working!!!

6:08PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

Have any of you seen the "conditions' that many of these 'migrant workers' live under while working at farms??? It's no wonder that so many 'farmers' want them to be allowed to come in and work on their farms. Wise up and see the real reasons,,,,cheap labor and not much overhead' folks!!

9:28AM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

And how much did they bring in?

2:07PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

In Massachusetts Illegal Imigrants cost the taxpayers $1,800,000 a year.
Go to Mexico and apply for free housing, free food stamps, free phone.
You will be on the next haywagon back to the border.

2:43PM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

I guess that Care2 believes that we should continue to violate and ignore our laws just to have lettuce cheap and have a nice exploitable underclass which can do your dirty work...not to mention the poverty and strain on bankrupt government services that such poor people provide.

11:47AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

Kudos David M! If we were to enforce the laws we currently have on the books we would still be able to get our crops picked. The only difference would be that when the job is done the immigrants would go back to their country of origin.

I can only assume that all of you who think it's OK to let them stay have jobs which are not a target of the illegal workers. I am in the home remodel and service industry. I have had to reduce the amount I charge hourly by 20% in the last ten years just to keep work coming.

There will always be people willing to come here for seasonal work. We don't need to support unsustainable breeding practices in Mexico by allowing them to send us the fruits of their irresponsibility.

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