CA farmers lead new immigration push

CA farmers lead new immigration push

Migrant farm laborImmigration has become the biggest national issue involving California’s farmers. In the state’s agricultural heartland, a host of issues are on the agenda, ranging from this year’s painful drought to marijuana eradication.

But one matter looms large. Farmers need more laborers to work the fields, and Americans have not stepped up to the plate.

That has not just been a problem for California. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for instance, the challenge has been the same. As the Philadelphia Inquirer put it, local workers “don’t like the job and don’t stay long.” The immigrants who replace them, meanwhile, are sniffed out by the federal government and ordered to be dismissed.

With pressures like those, America’s farmers have eagerly joined a renewed push for nationwide guest-worker laws. They have been joined by a powerful coalition of special interests to press for changes. Trade groups, chambers of commerce, and municipal organizations all benefit from cheap and plentiful labor.

California’s agriculture lobby, however, sought an especially high profile in the drive to give legal status to undocumented workers. That’s exactly what they got. The Los Angeles Times recently claimed that “except for illegal immigrants, no group has more at stake in the national fight over immigration reform than California farmers.”

Late last month, The New York Times ran a big profile. Headlined, “California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience,” the report focused on the political stakes. Thanks to declining rates of immigration and increased deportations, agricultural employers have faced a steadily shrinking labor pool.

GOP divisions

Meanwhile, the California GOP has shied away from any comprehensive plan for immigrant legalization. That has led traditionally Republican growers and farmers to question whether their party deserves their money this election cycle. And it’s led others to consider simply moving their operations to Mexico.

Only a few California Republicans have responded to the tension by supporting measures to offer a “path to citizenship.” Democrats have been quick to capitalize. According to a new Department of Agriculture report pushed by Secretary Tom Vilsack, California could lose over $3 billion a year if immigrant farm labor doesn’t increase past its current 74 percent mark of the total farm work force.

By any measure, that’s already a very high proportion. Conservatives unhappy with the costs of the current system have condemned the farmers’ discontent. For critics including Ann Coulter, big employers of illegal workers have much to be thankful for. Current law allows them to turn a profit, while citizens pay for workers’ social services. What’s more, California ranks 10th among the 50 states collecting farm subsidies, with $10.3 billion handed out from 1995 to 2012.

Yet a closer look at the data has revealed a more complex picture. In one example, only 9 percent of California farms have collected subsidies, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The immigration issue doesn’t just divide Republicans in California. It divides California farmers. Some naturally align with the pro-business agenda of the party establishment. Others fit better with a more populist, independent agenda.

For these farmers, frustrations over immigration are part of a long-term grievance against the state and federal governments. At the Western Farm Press, Todd Fitchette summed up their mood in a single idea: California farmers have done more to help Mexican immigrants “than any political program dreamed up in an office in Washington, D.C. or Sacramento.”

5 comments

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  1. Queeg
    Queeg 10 April, 2014, 22:22

    Love these slave master globalists…..pay poor wages and expect the tax payer to pick health, security and social welfare costs…..wonderful business model.

    Reply this comment
  2. Raphael
    Raphael 13 April, 2014, 11:42

    The solution for farm labor is actually quite simple, something the US had until the Democrats abolished it – the Bracero program, where contractors brought in temporary workers who then went home after the harvest. That is what we need today. A number of countries around the world currently use similar programs for agricultural labor, and the United States uses a similar program for summer labor in the tourism industry, the Work and Travel program, where eastern European college students work during their summer breaks and then return home in the Fall.

    There is absolutely no reason why we should reward those who wantonly thumb their noses at our immigration laws with citizenship or even work permits. Illegal aliens are no more ”undocumented immigrants” than drug dealers are unlicensed pharmacists, a rapist is a non-consentual sex partner, or a bank robbery is an unauthorized withdrawal.

    Reply this comment
  3. giatny
    giatny 17 April, 2014, 12:49

    With the majority of illegals in CA, why can’t they hire them??? Why would there need
    to be more. The massive increase in government dependents will destroy this country.

    Reply this comment
  4. johnf
    johnf 26 May, 2014, 06:34

    There already is visa program for agricultural workers. The H-2A visa programs allows farmers, etc., to import as many foreign farm workers as they need, with no limit. The “ag” industry doesn’t like to use the H-2A visa program because it requires them to plan ahead a little, to pay slightly better wages and to provide decent working conditions. They have always found it much more convenient to hire illegal workers, who are more compliant and who aren’t in a position to complain about wages and working conditions.

    Reply this comment
  5. Leanne
    Leanne 21 January, 2015, 13:25

    There’sn’t been much information about the
    debate and I must claim I donot feel Ive although especially
    moved by it but never claimed to guide the alleged two-state solution. Because of this of the sectarian split in Northern Ireland,
    the 2 should stand for election mutually and also to be elected they
    must have cross-community assistance from the concurrent permission system,
    meaning a lot of both Users who’ve given themselves Nationalists and the ones who have selected themselves Unionists as well as a most the whole
    Construction, should vote in favour.

    A new electoral process for the Property of Commons – Britain is abnormal in Europe in having an electoral
    program that will be ‘first-past-the-post’ (FPTP) and you’ll find supporters for a technique of proportional representation (PR), versions of which
    are already used for elections towards the Scottish Parliament, the
    Welsh Assembly along with the Northern Ireland Assembly as well as for British elections towards the
    European Parliament.

    The main political parties in the united kingdom Parliament had
    previously consented to the execution of the
    Commission recommendations on devolution as well as the present of the referendum on devolution.

    Limits to the Royal Option – At the moment, the Prime Minister alone
    can exercise forces which once used to participate in the monarch,
    like the to apppoint certain judges and bishops, the signing
    of international agreements, and also the
    proclaiming of battle, but this may be improved to ensure that Parliament needs to choose such things.

    This sticks with policies set out by the Commissioner for Standards
    to get a widening of the data released via http://www.conservativehome.com/parliament/2014/07/mike-weatherley-mp-and-james-clappison-mp-to-stand-down-in-2015.html our
    FOI Publication Plan, and it is in accordance with the Information Commissioner’s specifications.

    Away from Structure of Westminster on the span of the discussion, a tiny number of Seasoned-Palestinian demonstrators used a
    banner stating “Time for You To start offering back what we had no right to take”
    – a reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the British government dedicated itself to building a
    “nationwide house” for that Jewish people in Palestine.

    One of many Conservatives who released he will be voting of spotting Palestine despite the position of his party,
    in favor, was Soame, the grandson Winston Churchill, of Prime Minister
    Benjamin Netanyahu’s hero.

    Reply this comment

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