Enforcement-only immigration policy hurting ag

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An analysis of how immigration enforcement is hurting agriculture in the U.S. was recently printed in The Christian Science Monitor.

Daniel Altschuler, a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College and author on immigration policies, noted how the recent Supreme Court rulings upheld aspects of the Arizona law to limit Latin American illegal immigration.

He contends the rulings “provided yet another sign that the drumbeat of immigration enforcement continues unabated. And with the nation on the cusp of summer, nowhere is the harmful impact of enforcement-only policies more evident than on America’s fruit and vegetable farms.”

He wrote that other states are trying to copy Arizona with laws that require businesses to use an "E-Verify" system and gives the state the right to suspend licenses from any business that knowingly hires undocumented workers.

Altschuler contends there has to be something more than “enforcement-only policies” that cause human tragedy with what he reports as a record number of deportations and detentions (roughly 400,000 annually under Obama) separating families and hurting communities.

“Second, particularly in labor-intensive agriculture, enforcement-only policies have a dire economic impact,” he wrote.

Altschuler used a state nearly as far away from Arizona as he could to illustrate his points. In upstate New York, illegal workers are extremely scared. Many undocumented workers still have jobs that must be filled on all types of farming operations including fruit, vegetable and dairy farms.  

Government officers stake out Wal-Marts, check cashers and even churches; therefore, workers stay on the farms as much as possible, according to Altschuler.

“Growers are scared, too, and many no longer speak on-the-record. One vegetable producer, who requested anonymity, explained why: ‘Every time a farmer’s in the news, it seems like there’s a silent raid at their farm.’

“This silence is remarkable given that growers might otherwise be shouting at the costly interruption. A 2011 Farm Credit East report indicates that in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York, nearly 1,700 farms are ‘highly vulnerable’ to bankruptcy or a shift to part-time production if labor supply disruption continues,” Altschuler wrote. 

He summarizes his analysis by suggesting problems ahead for farmers and the nation. “Elected officials need to find a solution that works for growers, farmworkers and the economy. Otherwise, instead of ushering in a bountiful harvest, summer will come to stand for lost possibility on America’s farms.”

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hacim obmed    
02215  |  June, 16, 2011 at 09:59 AM

It is a federal offense to hire illegal workers. If you do this you can be fined several thousand dollars for each worker and you can be sentenced to jail for six months. These are the civil penalties for a first offense. Things are worse for a second offense and, in some cases, additional criminal penalties also apply. When employers exploit illegal labor, honest law abiding workers and employers are faced with unfair competition. Lawful workers thus find fewer employment opportunities and are forced to accept lower wages and reduced working conditions in order to compete for the remaining jobs. Honest businesses are frequently forced into bankruptcy. In addition, employers who exploit undocumented workers seldom pay the required payroll taxes and the undocumented workers seldom pay their federal or state income taxes. Undocumented workers nevertheless are able to collect certain welfare and medicaid benefits and their children can attend public schools at taxpayer expense. Meanwhile we have more than 24 million legal workers looking for work, states and localities and are running large budget deficits, and the federal government is borrowing 40% of each dollar it spends. This situation is simply intolerable. It is necessary to identify, arrest and deport as many illegal aliens as possible. It is necessary to audit businesses who exploit illegal labor and prosecute them to the maximum extent. Amnesty for those who have entered the country illegally is out of the question. Although they "just want to work and make a living", they have broken the tax laws and presented fraudulent documents to obtain employment. They are serious criminals and also uninvited gate crashers who have done great and real harm. Citizenship is an honor and a privilege and such people do not deserve to be rewarded for their behavior.

Dave Kross    
New York  |  June, 16, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Hacim Obmed, huh? Another internet troller looking to spread lies about migrant workers and those who employ them. Who pays you do this?

Wisconsin  |  June, 16, 2011 at 11:02 AM

How regretable to read these comments. So ill informed as to many of the facts, so lacking in humanity compared to moral standard to which our country should adhere. The actions recommended in this comment, some of which are already carried out by state and Federal authorities in our name, only differ by a matter of degrees from the treatment meted out to gipsys and other vulnerable minorities in Nazi Germany. There is tragedy of epic proportions taking place behind a screen of denial, ignorance and prejuidice. Time to wake up and stand up for what is just and right; and in the long term economic interest of the United States if people were not so blinded as not to see it.

Donald Salac    
June, 16, 2011 at 08:29 PM

I was born in this country and have been a carpenter in California for 35 years. I have not had a real job in three years. Yet, when I walk onto a jobsite looking for work I have a hard time finding anyone who speaks English. Where's the humanity in that?

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